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Washington County tables CTIB dissolution as moot

Bring out your dead — not so fast.

The fight to kill the Counties Transit Improvement Board has taken on the shadings of a Monty Python sketch. Four member counties want to pull the plug on CTIB, a regional alliance that uses shared tax revenue to fund bus and light rail projects in the Twin Cities. 

"But I'm not dead!" a fifth member — Dakota County — pipes up.

Dakota County elected officials remain determined to keep their four fellow member counties — Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington — in CTIB, unless they're given a bigger share of remaining funds. 

All five counties must vote to dissolve CTIB by Friday, or wait another three months before taking another crack at terminating the joint powers agreement. With Dakota County's position unchanged, the Washington County Board of Commissioners saw no point in voting on plans for the post-CTIB era.

At their Tuesday meeting, they indefinitely tabled a resolution to dissolve CTIB and to reimpose a quarter-percent sales tax and $20 excise tax on retail vehicle sales. The county collects an identical tax under CTIB. The money is disbursed in the form of capital and operating grants to help pay for bus and light rail transit projects in the metro. 

Washington County bus rapid transit projects such as the Gateway Gold Line and Red Rock Corridor, which are partly funded by CTIB, will proceed on schedule, County Commissioner Karla Bigham of Cottage Grove said.

Transportation planning manager Jan Lucke said they were prepared for either outcome.

"We were mostly focused with keeping our projects on schedule," she said following Tuesday's meeting.

Last week, Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg said Dakota County has contributed $122.4 million since CTIB was formed in 2008. But they only got back nearly $52.9 million, which helped launch the Red Line bus-rapid transit route that runs from Apple Valley to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

"Of $122 million of Dakota County sale tax collected, over $40 million will have been spent on grants in other counties," Holberg said.

The Dakota County Board voted March 21 to reimpose the quarter percent sales tax locally but did not vote to dissolve CTIB.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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