County agrees to Trailblazer ultimatum


Few issues among the members of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, four of whom started their job in January 2013, have been more divisive than the questions surrounding the end of the River Rider transit program. Hours have been spent during public board meetings and committee meetings to discuss the future of transit in Wright County. At the April 22 meeting, a decision was made. As with many previous votes on the matter, it was split among the commissioners, but the differences of opinion remain just as pronounced.
A week after coming up with a clear set of negotiation strategies, the board was presented with a set of terms put forth by the Trailblazer transit program, which currently serves McLeod and Sibley counties. Wright County would pay $210,000 to provide working capital for the remainder of 2014, would provide 35 percent of the local funding share moving forward and would agree that transit service would be provided using the Trailblazer model for operation of the organization.
A final bullet point made it quite clear that the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board wouldn’t move forward unless those three conditions were met, stating, “If the Wright County Board chooses not to approve these terms at their 4-22-14 meeting, negotiations between the TJPB and Wright County will cease. The TJPB will pursue other options.”
Commissioner Pat Sawatzke, who serves on the negotiation committee, said the document presented to the county board was little more than an ultimatum to join.
“In all honesty, we didn’t have the negotiations I had hoped to have,” Sawatzke said. “Their board was kind of in the position that we need to agree to these three things first before we negotiate.”
More information appears in this week's Messenger.