By mtjulietintern

As it relates to Mt. Juliet, Regional Transit Authority board plans to take action on city

The Regional Transit Authority board will create an ad hoc committee tasked to determine the most viable and appropriate course of action to take against Mt. Juliet concerning the city’s financial neglect of the Music City Star service. 

According to the group, Mt. Juliet has not paid its annual budgeted $30,000 Music City Star operating contribution since 2014. The city’s $30,000 budgeted for Music City Star operation is about $25,000 less than Lebanon and $20,000 less than Wilson County.

RTA board finance and audit chair Anthony Holt will head the committee that will also feature RTA board vice chair and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. Both were absent from Wednesday’s meeting, but spoke about the city’s contributions last month.

“We really don’t want to do anything punitive to Mt. Juliet, but it’s become an issue, because this is an ongoing problem,” Holt said during the meeting. “If you look at it, Mt. Juliet has the largest ridership, as my understanding, in that entire corridor, but yet, if you look back on page 11, they’re paying the least.”

“Mt. Juliet, for a while, did pay their fair share. Then, there was a situation that came up about the property around the station and the use of that. In conversations that happened between them and RTA, there was a difference of opinions of that. We’ve tried to get to the bottom of that,” Hutto said during the previous meeting. “We will work to try and solve that. We enjoy the train in Wilson County, and we want everybody to pay their fair share and want to do everything we can to keep it alive and going.”

RTA staff created several possible options for the future of the Mt. Juliet train station, which included ceasing service at the station and giving Mt. Juliet the land adjacent to the station’s parking lot. Other options included a $1 surcharge or a $3 daily parking fee for riders at the Mt. Juliet station.

Still more options included expansion of the station’s parking lot and declaring a small portion of land close to Mt. Juliet Road as surplus and allowing the city to buy the land.

RTA leaders said allowing the city to use the entire land for a park is complicated because the existing parking lot is at more than capacity, and if the group ceases to use the property for mass transit purposes – which turning over the land to the city would qualify – the group would need to remit the federal interest in the property to the federal government.

Another option included increased financial contributions from the other counties and municipalities to support cover the $30,000. 

“The city of Mt. Juliet does contribute to RTA via all maintenance, upkeep, repair and emergency services to the train station/depot,” Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said last month. “In past years, the city also contributed an additional annual $30,000 contribution to the RTA beyond our annual dues and bountiful in-kind services, but those contributions have been shifted in recent years to more pressing local infrastructure needs throughout our city.”

Martin, who was present at Wednesday’s meeting, said Mt. Juliet infrastructure projects such as Golden Bear Gateway, the adaptive signals upgrade, lighting of the Interstate 40 interchange and other road projects have demanded the city’s attention and money.

“The city is very proud of the projects we are conducting and feel we have a wonderful relationship and partnership with RTA. Again, we’d like to contribute more, but have to put all of our more pressing local infrastructure needs first on our priority needs list,” Martin said. “We will continue to work well with and support the RTA and all of our partners as we always have and always will.”

Music City Star service begins in the East Corridor and runs from Lebanon to downtown Nashville and includes six stations – Lebanon, Martha, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage, Donelson and Riverfront Station. 

For more information on the Music City Star, visit musiccitystar.org.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com