- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Three small Iowa cities are dropping out of the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority because of limited use and concerns that the bus service doesn’t reach their communities even though costs have increased.

Carlisle, Mitchellville and Polk City have notified DART of their intention to withdraw from the bus service system, the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/2gsg3mC ) reported.

City officials in Elkhart are also considering leaving. Elkhart has been contributing money to the system since its formation in 2006, but the city receives no service.

The departures of the three cities come as the system works to generate support for DART Forward 2035, a long-range plan to increase the number of bus routes and frequency of stops.

“The intent was to provide regional service, let it grow and try to be something for everybody. Well, you know what? You can’t be all things to all people,” said Altoona Mayor Skip Conkling, who is a member on the DART commission.

About 53 percent of DART’s $31 million budget comes from property taxes. With the three cities departing, DART could lose about $217,000 in annual revenue.

“Taxpayers weren’t getting their money’s worth,” Mitchellville Mayor Jon Woods said.

“They hit the nail on the head,” DART chief officer Elizabeth Presutti said of the departing cities’ complaints on increased finances. “But as we look to grow the system and as demand develops in the more outlying areas of the region, we hope they’ll reconsider being part of the transit system.”

Christine Hensley, a Des Moines councilwoman and DART commission member, said some partners are currently working to hire a consultant to help with the company’s funding method. Until then, DART expects to increase property tax levies in the next fiscal year.

The cities plan to pull out of the system within the next 18 months.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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