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Posted on: November 26, 2023

Grimes to Withdraw from DART

DART bus stop

*This post was updated at 8:30 am on November 29,2023.

What is changing with DART in Grimes?

At the November 28, 2023, City Council meeting, the Grimes City Council voted to withdraw from DART. The service will run until the contract expires on July 1, 2025. The City currently contributes $645,919 a year to DART. An estimated 13 Grimes residents have used their services in the past year.

What does DART currently offer in Grimes?

DART offers three different services in Grimes. Express Route 93 is a limited-stop fixed-route bus service between Grimes and downtown. Approximately six Grimes residents use this service. Grimes On Call is a pre-scheduled door-to-door transit service to provide access to neighboring communities. There have been no requests for that service in 2023. Paratransit is DART’s door-to-door service for qualified individuals with disabilities. Seven residents of Grimes have used paratransit over the last year. All three services equate to 3,588 bus trips per year for Grimes residents. 

Why is the City making this decision now?

DART has not only dealt with inflation but has also been negatively impacted by significant reductions in funding from Medicaid, property tax reform, and lower fare revenue. DART has operated with a structural deficit for several years. Because of this, they are asking Grimes and other metro communities to increase their contributions. For Grimes, this would increase to $0.59/$1000 of taxable value in FY 2025. That means the City’s estimated contribution would rise to $705,783.

The City of Grimes appreciates how over the past couple of years DART has worked hard to be responsive to feedback by trying to lower the cost for our community. This has included freezing the property tax levy in smaller communities including Grimes and implementing a new property tax formula that has decreased the DART levy for Grimes’ residents from $.602/1,000 in FY18 to $.555/1,000 in FY24.  However, low levels of ridership in Grimes means the City must consider the cost/benefit analysis of the service.

What is the City of Grimes doing to help disabled residents who use DART services?

The City of Grimes supports Grimes Volunteer Support Services (GVSS). GVSS is a group of 70 volunteers who donate their time to help transport more than 210 Grimes residents to medical appointments, shopping, social events, library visits, and more. The City is evaluating increasing their shuttle services through additional funding. 

The City is also considering contracting a paratransit service. City of Grimes staff would need to determine who is eligible for this service; what trips would be deemed eligible; and how to budget for such expenses. It should be noted that historically when other communities have withdrawn from DART the regional transit system has not provided contracted paratransit trips.

Is there a financial cost for withdrawing from DART?

Grimes is responsible for a proportionate share of DART’s outstanding debt obligations, estimated to be 2.5%, and for payment of DART operating expenses by a property tax levy. The cost of withdrawal requires that Grimes pay its share of the outstanding DART debt obligations estimated to be $59,243.

How will this affect my taxes?

If the Council votes to no longer fund DART, residents may see a decrease in their taxes after the DART contract ends on July 1, 2025.

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