Budget Work Session
March 23, 2006
4:15 PM
CATA Board Room – 2081 W. Whitehall Road, State College, PA

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John Spychalski, Chairman
Joe Davidson, Vice-Chairman
Richard Kipp, Treasurer
Gary Powers
Kathryn Bittner

Hugh Mose, General Manager
Judi Minor, Director of Administration
Eric Bernier, Service Development Manager
Joe Gilbert, Director of Transportation
Sherry Snyder, Manager, Operations

Chairman Spychalski called the meeting to order at 4:20 PM.

II. Public Comment
No public comment was offered.

III. FY 2006/2007 Preliminary DRAFT Budget

Hugh Mose began the meeting noting that the uncertainty regarding the “flex” funds has caused the FTA not to release any money, which each day brings CATA closer to drawing from a line of credit to meet budgetary needs.

Chairman Spychalski asked how they are able to withhold the money. Judi Minor stated that the money is really the Governor’s apportionment, and until PENNDOT is comfortable with the situation and forwards an allocation letter to the FTA, nothing will happen.

Mr. Mose stated that the situation presents a major challenge regarding the budget. If CATA backs away from planned program enhancements, it will evidence that CATA doesn’t need the funds. However, if CATA includes all the activities and the funding is then cut, Mr. Mose stated that the budget would then be seriously out of balance.

Mr. Mose stated that the staff prepared a budget that will allow current programs to continue, add approximately 4000 revenue hours of bus service, enhance marketing efforts and increase staffing by two. He stated that this budget anticipates receiving the “flex” funds. Mr. Mose further indicated that no fare increases are proposed again this year. Mr. Mose stated that the current fare is about as high as people are willing to pay.

Mr. Mose commented on the following items with regard to Revenue Issues:

Local shares will be budgeted with a 5% increase. Mr. Mose noted that the issue regarding local share allocation appears to have been put aside for this year, referencing previous discussions regarding the replacement of the Miller Formula with the COG Formula.

Benner Township is willing to budget funds for the first time for a portion of the local share. He stated that this should allow CATA to maintain current service levels on the X Route and if Centre County Government is willing to increase their contribution since the opening of the new prison, some of the service that was cut could be restored. When Mr. Mose spoke with Tim Boyde, County Administrator, he seemed positive that the County would support his request.

Judi Minor reported on State Assistance, noting that historic state funding is expected to continue at current levels. There was discussion regarding the current situation regarding “flex” funds and the background of PENNDOT’S revisiting the program. Mr. Minor stated that the “flex” funding originally allocated to us was $1.2 million, but that it can be reduced or eliminated at PENNDOT’S discretion.

Ms. Minor stated that we can expect the same level of funding from Federal Assistance this year. Mr. Mose also reported on new funding sources, JARC, New Freedom and CMAQ, which CATA will pursue for service enhancements.

With regard to Passenger Revenue, fares would remain the same. However, Mr. Mose noted that the staff would be seeking to negotiate higher rates from several of the apartment complexes due to increased ridership.

Penn State will operate basically at the same level of service on LOOP and LINK, but in anticipation of the H Route serving the airport, we may try to delete it from the Fare-Free Zone.

Mr. Mose next reported on Expenditure Issues, Staffing Levels and Service Revisions as follows:

The Marketing budget has been increased as a result of requests made by elected officials and with the support of the Board at the February meeting to enhance advertising and the promotion of various services. An Annual Report will also be developed.

Mr. Mose stated that he believes the time has come for small transit operators to engage a lobbyist who would work on our behalf in Harrisburg. He said it is not uncommon for a group to get together and jointly retain a lobbyist. The budget reflects what our share might be under Professional Services.

Mr. Mose stated that the budget reflects a 3% adjustment to the pay plan for non-represented employees. He added that this is commensurate with the 3% negotiated with bargaining unit employees last spring.

Mr. Mose and Joe Gilbert next discussed Maintenance staffing needs. Mr. Mose referenced previous recommendations that another Bus Cleaner be hired in FY 2006/2007. However, Mr. Gilbert has seen a greater need to hire another Mechanic who can supplement the new overnight shift and hence, Board members discussed inhouse eligibility versus hiring from the outside and how it affects staffing issues. It is recommended that a Mechanic I be hired.

The second position included in the FY 2006/2007 budget is a Safety/Training Officer. Mr. Mose stated that CATA does a lot of new and refresher training and really needs to designate one person, as recommended by the Management Performance Review, to handle the Safety and Training program.

Mr. Mose stated that other positions previously discussed for inclusion in the budget are Custodian, Clerical Staff support in the Operations/Maintenance areas, and an Executive Services Director who would assist the General Manager. Given the uncertainty of the “flex” funding, those positions have been set aside for now.

Even with concerns about “flex” funding, Mr. Mose stated that the DRAFT Budget anticipates service revisions on the V, N, and R; H and W; K and S, P, and X Routes. Eric Bernier provided a brief description of the recommended service changes. There was Board discussion regarding ridership on each of these routes and how CATA planned to accomplish the changes, and whether Centre Ride services would be extended into any of the areas that will be newly served.

After a short dinner break, Judi Minor reviewed the 5-page Budget line items. Conversation highlights included fuel costs, new positions, benefits, bus refurbishments, RideGuide printing, membership in the Regional Technology Coalition (RTC), purchase of PDA/Cell Phones for management/supervisory staff and a phone system upgrade. Mr. Mose concluded stating that the Preliminary DRAFT Budget has been developed to include expenditures required to maintain existing programs and activities, add a small amount of bus service, increase staffing and make a greater investment in marketing.

IV. Adjournment
Chairman Spychalski adjourned the work session at 6:25 PM.

V. Executive Session
The Board reconvened in Executive Session to discuss personnel matters.