Jan. 03–The Mt. Juliet Commission will discuss a resolution Monday that would resolve an issue with the Regional Transit Authority board regarding payment for the city’s Music City Star commuter train service.
The group created an ad hoc committee in October to determine the most viable and appropriate course of action to take against the city over its 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.
The committee met with Mt. Juliet officials in November and each site presented their issues and potential solutions. The group, which included Mt Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty, Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and RTA board members, worked on an agreement to the issue.
Elements of the resolution include Mt. Juliet making annual payments to the RTA toward the operation of the Music City Star, the RTA working with Mt. Juliet officials on a station improvement program that accommodates an expanded parking lot and incorporation of a small park and city center at the corner of East Division Street and North Mt. Juliet Road.
Ad hoc committee chairman Anthony Holt said during the group’s November board meeting that he believed the agreement would protect the integrity of the RTA and said he hoped all parties could move forward in a constructive way.
Martin said during the meeting that city officials understand the popularity of the train station and want ridership to increase. He noted city staff would meet with developers in the future regarding a transit-oriented development in the city’s downtown area.
If commissioners approve the agreement on second reading Monday during its meeting, the agreement will return to the RTA board for final approval.
The disagreement between Mt. Juliet and the RTA reached a boiling point last year, which forced RTA staff to create potential options regarding the service in Mt. Juliet.
"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 a previous RTA meeting.
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.
Martin said last year that local needs, such as Golden Bear Gateway, limited the city’s ability to contribute to the operational expenses of the Music City Star.
"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 year. "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."
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.
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