Dakota County to leave CTIB, approves county transportation funding

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to approve a resolution to dissolve the Counties Transit Improvement Board.

The move followed the same action that has been approved by the four other CTIB member counties — Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Washington — and paves the way for CTIB to formally dissolve at its June 21 meeting.

A tentative agreement to dissolve CTIB was developed after negotiations May 6 and 7. That session was needed after Dakota County held up a March vote to dissolve the board as it disputed the amount of money it would receive in the break up.

Dakota County will receive $21.3 million as part of the dissolution ­— $5.3 million more than previously proposed.

The Dakota County Board also voted on Tuesday to maintain the current quarter-percent sales tax and $20 excise tax on new vehicle sales at the same rate.

These actions will be cost neutral to residents and businesses as the tax will replace the CTIB tax, according to a press release from the county.

County officials said in the release that maintaining the current quarter-percent sales tax will fund much needed Dakota County transit and transportation projects, while providing a better return on investment for Dakota County taxpayers.

County officials said transportation funding collected in Dakota County will be used on high-impact projects to improve safety, congestion, mobility and economic development.

Although CTIB is disbanding, Dakota County said it remains committed to working with partners in the region on a robust, sustainable, regional transit system.

“This move by the Dakota County Board of Commissioners is focused on looking forward and addressing much-needed transportation needs in Dakota County that will provide greater return on investment to our county’s taxpayers than the regional CTIB approach did,” said Mike Slavik, Dakota County Board chairman. “Leaving CTIB will help create a long-term, reliable structure to fund Dakota County’s transportation needs.”

Dakota County revenue could be used to fund regional transitway capital and operation costs such as the Metro Orange Line along I-35, Metro Red Line along Cedar Avenue, transit expansion, county and trunk highway projects, and regional trail projects.

Five metro counties — Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Washington — established CTIB in 2008 to advance transit projects through the entire metro area.

Dakota County saw a lack of CTIB investment in Dakota County transportation initiatives. Since 2008, CTIB collected about $947 million in taxes overall with $122 million coming from Dakota County taxes, as of March 31, 2017.

During the same period, Dakota County projects received $53 million from CTIB.

If CTIB votes to dissolve on June 21, the CTIB sales tax will end on Sept. 30. Dakota County’s sales tax will take effect on Oct. 1.

In addition to the dissolution payment of $21.3 million, the agreement says Dakota County would be paid back any future CTIB refunds of repayments on the same basis as other member counties.

The county also will not be required to pick up CTIB’s current 50 percent share of Red Line bus rapid transit operating cost subsidies. The Star Tribune reported that the Met Council would pick up the estimated $1.4 million in annual expenses to run the line that currently goes from Apple Valley to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

Tad Johnson contributed to this story.