CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

REGULAR BOARD MEETING

REVISED MINUTES

January 28, 2002

4:00 p.m.

STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH CONFERENCE ROOM 241

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:

John Spychalski, Chairman

Donald Sherman, Vice-Chairman

Richard Kipp, Treasurer

Joseph Davidson

Gary Powers

OTHERS PRESENT:

Hugh Mose, General Manager

Joseph Gilbert, Director of Transportation

Judith Minor, Director of Administration

L. Eric Bernier, Director of Service Development

Diane Heichel, Executive Assistant

Richard McCarl, State College Borough Liaison

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:03 p.m.


II. 2002 ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS

A. Election of officers

Chairman Spychalski noted that, in accordance with the Authority's By-Laws, the election of Board Officers is to occur annually at the first regularly scheduled meeting of the new calendar year. The 2001 Board officers were:

Mr. Powers nominated the incumbent slate of officers for re-election to serve in the year 2002. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion. There being no further nominations, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion was passed unanimously.


III. PUBLIC COMMENTS - CITIZEN INPUT

Chairman Spychalski called for comments or input from the general public.

Mr. McCarl commended the Authority for reelecting the current officers.

Chairman Spychalski commended the Borough on the new facility.

Mr. McCarl invited the Board to attend the Open House on February 22.

Mr. Sherman congratulated Mr. McCarl for being elected President of the State College Borough Council.

IV. OLD BUSINESS

A. Approval of Minutes of December 3, 2001 Board Meeting

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board approve the minutes of the December 3, 2001 Board meeting as presented. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. There being no further discussion or revisions, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

B. Receipt of the November and December 2001 Finance Reports

Mr. Kipp moved that the Board receive the November and December 2001 Finance Reports. Mr. Davidson seconded the motion.

Ms. Minor noted that the items that are over budget will be discussed later in the meeting under agenda item IV. C. Financial Situation.

Ms. Minor noted that the Authority will probably not be receiving of the state demonstration grant money by June 30. This will be offset by lower expenditures for professional services.

Ms. Minor also noted that on page 2, the balance of the state operating assistance has been held in abeyance. The Authority has used up all of its Act 26 funds, but still has the state supplement to use. Ms. Minor added that it's pretty apparent how most of the line items are doing at this point.

Mr. Mose noted that the Paratransit summary for December shows that ridership declined for the first time in a very long time. Mr. Mose also noted that the overall fixed route ridership declined in December from the year-to-year comparison. In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Mose noted that there was one fewer day that the students were here in December. There were also fewer hours of LOOP service operated in December.

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

 

C. Financial Update

Mr. Mose noted that in response to the Board's request for an update on the financial situation, he had prepared the memo included in the Board packets.

Referring to his memo, Mr. Mose reviewed CATA's revenues, subsidies and expenditures (actual through December, projected through June) for the current fiscal year. Mr. Mose then summarized the current situation and discussed steps the staff is taking to ensure that the Authority will make it through the year without drawing down all of the reserves.

Mr. Mose also stated that the main concern is not that revenues are below the budgeted amounts; ridership revenue is on line, the Federal subsidy will be a little bit higher than projected, but the state subsidy will be lower than anticipated. The main concern is that expenditures will be considerably higher than projections.

Mr. Mose stated that most of the budget is in line with projections, however, driver labor and benefits costs are much higher than the budgeted amount. Staff reviewed the spreadsheets included in the Board packets, noting that they have been looking at the components that make up the drivers' hours, adding that the amount of hours on the street reflect the hours budgeted. Mr. Mose explained how some bid runs have overtime built in, while others are not quite 40 hours, yet the drivers are paid a 40 hour week. He continued by reviewing other components such as projected vacation hours taken and sick leave used, adding that for some reason there has been a high number of vacation days and sick time used during the first half of this fiscal year. The other high expense is overtime. There were a number of drivers who did not return in the fall. Until a full complement of drivers has been hired and trained, each hour a driver is out, either on vacation or sick leave, their work must be covered with overtime hours. Once there are enough drivers, this work would be covered with an on-call driver at straight time.

Mr. Mose noted that he had thought drivers' labor would be the one item furthest out of line with the budget; however, drivers' benefits will be much higher than the projected budget. Medical benefits and unemployment compensation have been much higher than projected. Also, short-term disability insurance has increased and wage "roll-ups" have also continued to grow.

At this time it looks like drivers' benefits and wages will be about $250,000, which will be about $9,000 higher than budgeted. At this rate the Authority will end the year with only $100,000 in the carryover. Staff has already begun looking at ways to cut spending for the 2002/2003 fiscal year.

Mr. Mose stated that although staff is looking at all areas to reduce spending, the only way to clearly save money is to reduce hours of service. The Operations staff is reevaluating tripper hours, looking at possible cuts which would not be detrimental to riders. Mr. Gilbert is working with the Union to conduct a rebid to facilitate this service change quickly.

In response to Mr. Powers, Ms. Minor noted that the fuel prices are locked in for the rest of this year. She's hoping that fuel and lubricants will come in under the projected budget, adding that if the weather continues to be favorable, utilities will also come in a little under budget. Ms. Minor reviewed the process to lock in fuel prices for long durations of time.

Mr. Sherman noted that Mr. Mose has done a good job at presenting the financial situation and outlining where the major problems lie regarding expenses, both nondiscretionary and discretionary. On the assumption that staff is working on those and still not solving the problems, perhaps we need to revisit the revenue area to find out if we need to be more aggressive in meeting the costs to operate. In response to Mr. Sherman, Ms. Minor noted that the projection for this year's drivers' wages is lower than was actually spent last fiscal year, but the amount budgeted for this fiscal year is even less than that. The problem lies in that the budget will still be over-spent even with the service adjustments.

Mr. McCarl asked how the increase in fare revenue will affect the budget for next year. Mr. Mose noted that the riders who purchase passes, buy tokens and pay cash represent only half of the passenger revenue; apartment complex fees and the University cover the other half. Mr. Mose noted that it is staff's hope that by raising fares, the pass agreements with apartment complexes and the University's contribution will also increase respectively.

Ms. Minor called the Board's attention to Operating Subsidy on page two of the estimates. Last year, CATA spent $1,350,000 in Federal Operating Assistance, $766,000 in new money, and about $550,000 in carryover. This year the staff estimates that $1,300,000 in Federal Operating Assistance will be needed. If it works out exactly as planned, there will be only $100,000 in carryover left for next year.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose stated that CATA is traditionally well below other authorities in the use of sick leave hours, and has been comparable in vacation usage. Mr. Davidson asked if there could be a morale problem causing employees to not want to report to work. Mr Mose stated that he had not considered this as a possible problem, but he would look into it. Mr. Gilbert noted that he has not seen a morale problem within the ranks, at least it has not been apparent to him.

Ms. Minor also noted that it costs about $8,000 to have an employee on health insurance, therefore if there is not enough work to keep an on-call driver employed full-time, it's less costly to work the overtime.

Mr. Mose agreed to provide monthly updates on the financial situation and progress with service cuts.

No Board action was required.

D. Pass and Token Prices

Mr. Mose noted that at the December 3 Board meeting, the Board formally adopted a new base fare of $1.25, to become effective in August 2002. At that time, staff had not completed its evaluation of pass and token pricing, but agreed to present alternatives and a recommendation to the Board at the January meeting. Mr. Mose referred to the memo included in the Board packet that provided a rationale for staff's recommendations on pricing for single tokens, rolls of twenty tokens, and One-Passes of one through twelve months' duration.

Because of the financial situation discussed in item IV. C., staff realized that an increase in pass and token prices was necessary. Mr. Mose summarized the thought process behind the recommended token and pass prices, reviewing proposals A, B and C. Mr. Mose recommended that the Board approve the price increase as indicated in Proposal C and raise token prices to $1.25 for a single token and $24.00 for a roll of 20 tokens.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Mose noted that based on estimated pass usage, the proposed pricing would bring the average cost to about $1.15 per ride. Chairman Spychalski expressed his concern that the Authority is in competition with subsidized parking and he feels that the low cost subsidized parking is contributing to the higher automotive congestion, poor air quality, traffic accidents, etc. He also noted that he recently witnessed this problem firsthand when one of his fellow bus riders decided that it would be cheaper to drive his car and park on the campus periphery and ride the LOOP bus for free. However, this person was not considering the cost of operating the vehicle, only the cost of the parking permit versus the cost of a bus pass. Chairman Spychalski also added that a higher percentage of subsidy from local shares would enable the Authority to meet the transit needs of the communities.

Mr. Mose also added that everyone is trying to meet a variety of competing demands. He still believes that the ultimate solution for CATA and the community would be to get the University on board with a prepaid bus fare program for all University employees and students. Chairman Spychalski added that there are other transit authorities serving communities with large universities which already have such service.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Chairman Spychalski stated that years ago CATA brought in representatives from other transit authorities which provided information on successful employee and student pass programs involving large universities.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board adopt the recommended pricing structure as follows which would also include the family pass rate at twice the OnePass prices:

Fare Media Price
Tokens - individual $1.25
Tokens - roll of 20 $24.00
One-Pass - 1 month $49.00
One-Pass - 2 months $99.00
One-Pass - 3 months $149.00
One-Pass - 4 months $195.00
One-Pass - 5 months $239.00
One-Pass - 6 months $279.00
One-Pass - 7 months $319.00
One-Pass - 8 months $359.00
One-Pass - 9 months $399.00
One-Pass - 10 months $439.00
One-Pass - 11 months $469.00
One-Pass - 12 months $499.00


Mr. Powers seconded the motion. Mr. Kipp noted that he'd like to have the Board work with staff on ways to increase funding. Because of the difficulty in getting the local municipalities to increase their local shares, there have to be some mind set changes in the community that are more long range. The Board and staff need to consider how the Authority is going to break the stranglehold on the funding sources that are available. Chairman Spychalski pointed out that the Authority has kept from raising fare prices for the past five years.

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

F. Construction Management Services

Mr. Mose noted that back in July, the Board authorized him, as General Manager, to write a letter committing CATA to retaining Alexander Constructors to serve as construction manager on the facility expansion project. The letter was necessary because Alexander would be working with the architect during the design phase; however, the Authority was unable to enter into a contract until staff knew whether federal or state funds would be used on the project. Mr. Mose added that it was almost Christmas when staff finally learned that state funds would need to be used, but Alexander needed to start expending significant resources preparing and disseminating bid packages right after the first of the year. Therefore, staff really couldn't wait until the January Board meeting to execute the formal contract. Mr. Mose noted that he recommended to the Chairman that he go ahead and sign the contract, but bring it to the Board for confirmation at the January meeting. Chairman Spychalski concurred.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board authorize, retroactively, the General Manager to execute a contract with Alexander Constructors for construction management services on the expansion of the Operations and Administration areas of CATA's Cato Park facility, in the amount of four percent of the cost of construction plus fees and expenses, not to exceed $122,400. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

V. NEW BUSINESS

A. FY 2002/2003 Budget Timetable

Mr. Mose noted that the proposed timetable is much the same as in past years.

Mr. Mose asked the Board to consider a date during the week of March 11 to hold a Board Work Session. The Board tentatively set the work session for Monday, March 11, 4:00 p.m. in the CATA Boardroom.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board adopt the FY 2002/2003 Budget Timetable as presented or subsequently revised, including setting a Public Hearing for February 25, 2002. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

B. Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Cooperative Memorandum of Agreement to Establish a Unified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification

Mr. Mose reported that two years ago, federal regulations governing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program were extensively revised. One of the new provisions required that each state adopt a Unified Certification Program (UCP) to provide a single, unified application process for firms seeking DBE certification. Prior to the UCP, firms seeking DBE certification were required to submit applications and be approved by each transit authority with whom they wished to do business.

Pennsylvania's UCP has been finalized and each transit authority is required to formally accept its provisions. The resolution included in the Board packets is part of that process; however, at PennDOT's request, some revisions were necessary. A new copy has been distributed.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board adopt the corrected resolution certifying the Authority's participation in Pennsylvania's Unified Certification Program. Mr. Powers seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Mose reviewed the resolution and the process behind it. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

C. Substance Abuse Policy

Mr. Gilbert reported that the Federal Transit Administration's final rule on the prevention of Alcohol Misuse and Prohibited Drug Use in Transit Operations became effective on August 1, 2001. While the new regulations do not alter the overall drug and alcohol program in any substantial way, they contain a number of minor changes to the administration of the program. Accordingly, the revisions must be included in the policy and approved by the Board. Mr. Gilbert reviewed the small procedural changes.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Gilbert gave examples of safety sensitive employees and non-safety sensitive employees, summarizing that anyone who is responsible for operating a bus, who directs anyone operating a bus, or who works on the mechanical operation of a bus, is considered a safety-sensitive employee.

In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Gilbert noted that although the employees will not notice any change in the procedures, all changes must be made available for review by employees at their request. Mr. Gilbert will provide a memo outlining the changes, adding that he has already discussed this issue with Union leadership.

There being no further discussion, it was moved, seconded and passed to approve the revised Substance Abuse Policy.

D. Bid Award - Paratransit Vans

Mr. Mose reported that on January 16, 2002, staff opened bids for the purchase of three paratransit vans. The specifications required that the bidders quote a trade-in allowance for each of the three vans to be replaced. There were five bids received ranging in price from $154,681 to $163,228. The apparent low bid was submitted by AmTran, of Macungie, Pennsylvania, who bid vans manufactured by Eldorado National. Interestingly, Shepherd Brothers, the second lowest bidder, quoted a price for the vans themselves that was slightly lower than AmTran's, but their smaller trade-in allowance caused their bid to be $3,521 higher. Because these vans will be purchased using FTA Section 5310 funds, the Authority will not be able to finalize a contract until PENNDOT approval is received.

Mr. Sherman moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to execute a contract with AmTran for the purchase of three paratransit vans manufactured by Eldorado National, in an amount not to exceed $154,681 including a trade-in allowance of $11,000. Mr. Kipp seconded the motion.

In response to Mr. Davidson, Mr. Gilbert noted that staff sees no reason to be concerned with using a different vendor. The vehicles have the same chassis as the older vans, with some difference in the body style. Chairman Spychalski mentioned that the rust on the current paratransit vans is becoming conspicuous. In response to Mr. Powers, Mr. Gilbert stated that the bid specifies delivery in 120 days from receipt of the chassis, however, it may take 3-6 months to get the chassis. It may also take about 30 - 45 days to receive PennDOT approval.

Mr. Mose explained that these buses are being purchased with funds made available specifically for transportation of seniors and people with disabilities.

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

E. Centre Region Metropolitan Planning Organization Expansion

Mr. Mose referred to the memo regarding the Centre Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (CRMPO) expansion. Mr. Mose introduced Mr. Tom Zilla, Transportation Planner at the Centre Regional Planning Agency, working directly with the Expansion Committee. Mr. Mose reviewed the memo, noting the process being followed in the consideration of the expansion. The plan is to take the existing MPO, add five representatives from rural municipalities and a second county commissioner. Mr. Mose also reviewed the projected funding scenario.

Mr. Mose expressed that he feels this is a good approach and thinks it makes a lot of sense for the urban and rural areas of Centre County to have one voice. He also noted his feeling that it also makes sense for the County to pick up the funding for the rural areas who do not have the resources to contribute, but need to be a part of this expansion. He also expressed his feelings that this may present a reasonable model for a future structure for CATA.

Mr. McCarl added that the MPO already includes Spring and Benner Townships, as well as the Borough of Bellefonte. Much of the planning that goes on with the MPO is county wide already. Mr. McCarl also noted that the State College Borough has already approved this proposal.

Mr. Davidson expressed that he's in favor of the expansion but wondered if the municipalities were not being taxed twice, subsidizing CATA and paying a local share to the MPO. Mr. Zilla stated that it is the intention of the COG Finance Committee to see that CATA supports one full time transportation planner position.

In response to Mr. Sherman, Mr. Zilla noted that this funding would start out at about $12,000 in 2002 and climb to about $15,000 in 2006. Mr. Zilla also noted that there still needs to be discussion on using CATA's federal funding toward this contribution. Mr. McCarl added that different formulas are used to determine the supplement to CATA and the supplement to the MPO.

Mr. Davidson moved that the Board authorize the General Manager to write a letter to Tom Zilla, as requested in the attached memo, confirming that CATA supports the proposal for expansion of the CRMPO as presented by the MPO Expansion Subcommittee. Mr. Powers seconded the motion. Chairman Spychalski confirmed that this does not mandate an increase in members of the CATA Board. There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski called for a vote and the motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Spychalski noted that he has asked Vice-Chairman Sherman to represent CATA at the CRMPO meeting on Thursday.

VI. OTHER BUSINESS

A. General Manager's Report

Mr. Mose noted that staff held the pre-bid meeting on the facility expansion, adding that there was a very good turnout. Bids are due Friday, February 15. The Architect will appear before the Ferguson Township Planning Commission at their meeting this evening.

Mr. Mose reminded the Board about the Elected Officials Breakfast at CATA on Wednesday, January 30, at 7:30 a.m. Chairman Spychalski noted that this would be a good opportunity to make an effort to reach out to the newly elected officials as to what CATA is all about and to discuss future developments.

In response to Mr. Kipp, Mr. Mose noted that he foresees little opposition from Bellefonte Borough to the 2002/2003 Budget. The biggest challenge may come from Spring Township because CATA's main supporter among their supervisors has retired.

B. Service Development Report

Mr. Bernier noted that he had nothing more to add to the report included in the Board packets.

Mr. Bernier also circulated the recent College Township newsletter which included CATA information, noting that this type of marketing is inexpensive and reaches the residents.

VII. ADJOURNMENT

There being no further discussion, Chairman Spychalski adjourned the meeting to Executive Session at 5:59 p.m. to discuss personnel issues.

 

VIII. EXECUTIVE SESSION

The Executive Session was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.