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Counties want to combine bus service

By Staff | Nov 23, 2014

Faribault and Martin counties held a joint work session in Fairmont last Wednesday in which the commissioners from both counties made a unanimous decision to form a JPA (joint powers authority).

Joint power between the counties will not take effect until each passes a motion to initiate and transition into the arrangement.

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners will vote during the Dec. 2 county board meeting.

If a JPA is formally authorized, the transit services of Faribault and Martin counties will integrate into one service.

In addition to passing a motion to form a JPA, each county must vote to authorize the hire of an interim administrator. This person will advise the joint powers board during the early development stage of the new transit system.

“We want to find someone who would seek out what is best for both Martin and Faribault counties,” said Jean Meyer, transit program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. “That person would be the one to champion this project and see things through.” MnDOT will fund 85 percent of the administrator’s salary and the remaining 15 percent will be split between the two counties. Details of the cost arrangement will be addressed at a later date.

The purpose of this work session, and the upcoming board meeting, was for the commissioners to come to a consensus in creating a JPA.

“We could sit here and try to design an agreement today, but we would be here for a month,” said Faribault County Commissioner Tom Loveall. “If we can leave here today on the agreement of going into joint power, we’ve made progress.”

The next step in developing a functional transit system is for the commissioners to form a JPB (joint powers board) a structure, consisting of commissioners from each county, that handles the organization and operation of the transit system.

Next, the JPA must draft a joint powers agreement a document that outlines the policies and procedures of the operation.

The commissioners hope to form a JPB and authorize a draft of the agreement by Dec. 16.