CENTRE AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY
BUDGET WORK SESSION
MARCH 21, 2011
CATA BOARD ROOM
2081 W. Whitehall Road
State College, PA 16801
BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: John Spychalski, Chairman
Joe Davidson, Vice-Chairman
Richard Kipp, Treasurer
STAFF PRESENT: Hugh Mose, General Manager
Louwana Oliva, Assistant General Manager
Judith Minor, Director of Administration
Kimberly Fragola, Assistant Director of Administration
Mark Kutzer, Director of Maintenance
Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager
Jackie Sheader, Marketing Manager
Julie Hartley, Human Resources Manager
Greg Kausch, Transportation Planner
Marsha Kyper, Assistant to the General Manager
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m.
II. PUBLIC COMMENT
There was no public comment.
Hugh Mose stated that the key elements to be covered during the Work Session would be the Preliminary Draft Budget and the Service Plan but that feedback from the Board on broader “policy” issues which will affect the further development of both of those items would be needed.
IV. DISCUSSION TOPICS
A. Five-Year Projections
Hugh Mose presented current projections of revenue and expenditures for the next five years which were based on the premise that at the state level, even though sales tax receipts are beginning to grow again, it will take several years before any additional dollars reach CATA; a lack of any overall transportation funding bill emerging from the General Assembly; and a continuation of the current level of federal formula funding, which is lower than last year. Hugh went on to report that information which was received from PennDOT after the Board packets were assembled suggested that state operating assistance for FY 2011/12 would be $100,000 higher than previously projected.
B. Revenues and Local Support
1. Fares, Token Prices and Pass Rates
Hugh Mose stated that as a result of the fare increase last August and the deeper discounts for the purchase of multiple rides which were instituted, the use of tokens and passes has increased; at the February meeting the Board accepted a staff recommendation that on August 1, 2011 token prices and pass rates be increased to restore the smaller discounts that had been in effect until last August. The net effect of the planned increases in pass and token prices, along with the increased revenue attributable to ridership growth, is estimated to be nearly $100,000.
In addition, the staff is recommending that the Football Shuttle fare be increased from $2.00 to $3.00 which is projected to generate an extra $20,000 in fare revenue. It was the consensus of the Board that Football Shuttle fares should be increased from $2.00 to $3.00.
2. Apartment Contracts
Hugh Mose and Eric Bernier reported that Vairo Village, Parkway Plaza and both Copper Beech apartment complexes pay for transit service on a per-ride basis and that for the coming year the owners/managers of the remaining apartment complexes are being informed that they too will be paying for transit service on a per-ride basis. The Preliminary Draft Budget includes an additional $100,000 in apartment contract revenue as a result of the change to this new model, which is more sustainable, will produce higher revenue and yet maintain ridership. It was the consensus of the Board that all apartment complexes should pay for transit service on a per-ride basis.
3. Penn State
Hugh Mose stated that due to Penn State’s funding having been severely cut, he does not anticipate an increase in funding from the University. Therefore, the Preliminary Draft Budget has been developed around an assumption that LOOP and LINK service hours will be cut by 5.0% and the associated savings used to increase the hourly rate by the same percentage. Hugh went on to state that campus service helps CATA to qualify for almost $900,000 annually under the federal Small Transit Intensive Cities program, and the high campus ridership is responsible for as much as $500,000 in additional state capital funds. Penn State also heavily subsidizes the very popular Ride-for-Five passes and helps support our CATACOMMUTE program.
4. Local Shares
Hugh Mose reported that at the Board’s December Planning Work Session staff was directed to again approach CATA’s municipal funding partners about an increase, and that this was accomplished at the January meeting of the COG Finance Committee. The Finance Committee was generally receptive and therefore, another 5.0% increase was included in the Preliminary Draft Budget. Hugh further stated that the vagaries of the Miller Formula will cause the municipalities’ and the University’s individual shares to change relative to one another, so it won’t be an across-the-board 5.0% increase.
C. State and Federal Funding
Hugh Mose referenced his memo which briefly describes eight different state and federal funding programs that CATA utilizes to support its operating and capital budgets. He stated that it is difficult to predict the impact of the recent state and federal elections on future funding, although it is expected that discretionary programs are likely to be scaled back or eliminated altogether.
A half hour meal break was taken at 5:30 p.m.
D. Exterior Advertising
Jackie Sheader referenced two memos to the Board, the first from December when the Board discussed exterior bus advertising at the Planning Work Session; the second which provides an update on the staff’s recent consultation with Penn State, and some of the issues that would have to be addressed with the University if CATA were to undertake the sale of advertising on the outsides of its buses. Jackie acknowledged that the staff is making a reluctant recommendation to the Board for CATA to proceed with an exterior advertising program. The Board consensus was that a systematic, holistic evaluation of the total costs and total capital investment involved in exterior bus advertising be conducted and presented for the Board’s consideration. Joe Davidson requested that the cost of electronic, GPS controlled exterior billboards be included in that evaluation.
Kathryn Bittner arrived at 6:30 p.m.
E. Fleet Replacement Plan
Louwana Oliva referenced her two-page cover memo and complete report “CATA Bus Fleet Evaluation and Replacement Outlook” and concluded with the staff recommendation that $675,000 be set aside annually from state formula capital funding to address, in part, the restoration of CATA’s rolling stock, and that consideration be given to contracting with a grant writer to assist in seeking additional funds.
The Board consensus was that a minimum of $675,000 should be set aside annually from state capital funding to address the restoration of the rolling stock. In addition the Board supported the idea of exploring the possibility of contracting with a grant writer to seek additional funding to support the bus fleet restoration and replacement needs.
F. Line Item Budget
Judi Minor presented the Preliminary Draft Budget, and an accompanying narrative which provides explanations for those line items which differ significantly from either the current budget or the estimated amount for the current year. The Board consensus was that staff should proceed with the development of the Preliminary Draft Budget for the Board’s approval at the March Board meeting based on the numbers presented.
G. Service Planning
Eric Bernier referenced his memo outlining service changes for FY 2011/2012 and an additional document “Community Service Draft Run Cut Assumptions." which provides additional detail on the proposed service cuts throughout the system.
The Board consensus was that as much of the mid-day and Saturday service as possible should be retained and that creative, cost effective substitutions for fixed route service would be considered by the Board with one example being a Guaranteed Ride Home program for those experiencing the loss of mid-day service.
H. Personnel and Labor Relations Issues
Hugh Mose stated that as CATA’s funding situation improved over the past several years, several badly needed positions have been added, but that fall-off in state and federal funding is now causing a reverse course. Two part-time Dispatcher positions created in lieu of a sixth Supervisor, and the temporary vacancy created when the Lead Supervisor was deployed with the Army Reserves for up to a year, will be left vacant.
Hugh went on to report that while better facility and vehicle cleaning are needed, CATA’s financial situation precludes consideration of any additional positions at this time.
2. Compensation for Non-represented Employees.
Hugh Mose stated that the Preliminary Draft Budget reflects no market adjustment for non-represented employees, and scales back or eliminates several benefits that are currently afforded to some or all non-represented employees (the cell phone and apparel allowances) but retains provision for merit increases.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:57 pm.
VII. EXECUTIVE SESSION
The Board reconvened in Executive Session to discuss personnel matters. The Executive Session was adjourned at 8:39 p.m.