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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

REGULAR MEETING
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
GREATER HARTFORD TRANSIT DISTRICT
Hartford Connecticut
December 11, 2014

Stephen F. Mitchell, Chairman
Presiding...........................

At 7:00 p.m., a quorum determined to be present; Mr. Mitchell called the Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Greater Hartford Transit District (the "District") to order in the new Conference Room of the District at One Union Place, Hartford, Connecticut. The following Directors were present: Joan Gamble, Bloomfield; Marilyn Pet and Peter J. Bonzani, East Hartford; Gilbert Hayes, East Windsor; Stephen F. Mitchell, Enfield; Frank Lord and Jennifer Cassidy (arrived at 7:03pm), Hartford; James McCavanagh, Manchester; William G. Hall, Newington; Ferguson R. Jansen, Simsbury; Gary S. Pitcock and Bruce Snow (arrived at 7:21pm), South Windsor; A. David Giordano and Richard F. Messenger, West Hartford; Brendan T. Flynn and Peter Gardow, Wethersfield; David Raney and Ricardo Quintero, Windsor. District staff present were Vicki L. Shotland, Executive Director; Kimberlee A. Morton, and Nhan Vo-Le Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services; DJ Gonzalez, Operations Administrator; Sandy Fry, Grants and Procurement Program Coordinator, and Valerie Ellis, ADA Paratransit Eligibility Coordinator.

The Chairman asked if there was any member of the public who wished to address the board. There were none. Mr. Mitchell then introduced Ms. Nhan Vo-Le to the Directors as the new Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services for the District. Ms. Gamble then moved adoption of the November 6, 2014 meeting minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Flynn, and approved by a vote of 30.11 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for presentation of the monthly financial report. Ms. Vo-Le discussed the following:

ADA Paratransit Program

Through the end of October the Paratransit yields a favorable variance of approximately $42,000 in excess of revenues over expenses. This is primarily due to lower actual expenses than budget for certain expenses (for example: fuel and ADA services); partially offset by lower actual revenue for the ADA program. The ADA program revenue during the first four months of the fiscal year is $50,000 lower than the adopted budget of $4.5 million due to lower approved contract amount.

General Fund
The General Fund produces a favorable variance of approximately $6,000 in excess of revenues over expenses during the first four months. The budgeted amount for the member town contributions has been collected. In addition, there is almost $8,000 in actual contributions that has not been collected. Of which, $6,600 will be collected this week. Interest income is higher than budgeted as a result of the return on the $300,000 long-term investment that yields approximately 1.2% interest.

Spruce Street Parking Lot
The Spruce Street Parking Lot generates a favorable variance of approximately $32,000 through the end of October. Both of the actual daily and monthly revenues generated from the parking lot are higher than expected by a total of nearly $5,700. Actual professional services are $21,000 lower than budgeted.

Union Station-Public
The Union Station – Public yields an unfavorable variance of approximately $24,000 primarily due to timing in requesting drawdown for the Federal Share.

Union Station-Private
The Union Station – Private shows a favorable variance of $94,000. Both revenues and expenses for this project produce a variance of approximately 30% as compared to the budgeted amounts. At the end of the fiscal year, Finance will reconcile the activities of the Union Station both Public and Private and will properly allocate costs to each project.

Cash Flows Report
The Cash Flow Report is new and will be part of the monthly financial report. This report captures the beginning cash balance, sources of funds, uses of funds, and ending cash balance. The report is a work-in-progress. Certain categories on the report such as other cash receipts and payments to vendors will be broken down in more detail. As of the end of October, the total ending cash balance is approximately $3.5 million.

Ms. Vo-Le also mentioned that as required by the State of CT, the District’s audited financial statements, Federal and State Single Audit Reports, and other required supplemental information have been submitted to DOT by auditor, Blum Shapiro. The District has sent out the same information to the member Town Clerks. Ms. Pet commented on the clarity of the new format, and the additional improvement of “favorable-unfavorable” designations.

There being no further discussion, Mr. Hayes motioned acceptance of the monthly financial report, which was seconded by Mr. Messenger, and accepted unanimously by a vote of 32.90 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstentions.

Mr. Mitchell then asked Mr. Gonzalez to report on the ADA Paratransit Program. Mr. Gonzalez reported that he is working with First Transit to launch a new self-service application called Info-Client. Passengers will be able to check their rides, bus arrivals, etc… on their computers and/or smart phones. He next stated that First Transit has reduced PMs on some of the fleet to address engine issues. Mr. Gonzalez noted that if any Director would like to contribute or see an article in the newsletter to please let him know. He also stated that the District has requested approval from CTDOT for an increase in the number of vehicles that we currently operate from 117 to 122. Mr. Gonzalez also noted that the District was given approval by CTDOT to donate a fleet vehicle which had met its useful life to the City of New Britain. This vehicle will be used by the fire department to house people temporarily when an emergency occurs.

Mr. Quintero asked about the problems occurring with the buses, and if the vehicles are old. Mr. Gonzalez explained that the District has a variety of buses, but there have been recent engine problems specifically with the 2010 vehicles. Mr. Snow asked if the bus arrival time can now be tracked through a smart phone, computer display, or tablet. Mr. Gonzalez acknowledged that they can be by signing onto the GPS program. Mr. Lord questioned how many people out of fifteen (15) who tried the program own smart phones or computers. Mr. Gonzalez reported that out of the fifteen (15) individuals, all owned a smart phone or computer which is required to participate. Mr. Lord also asked if the CTfastrak will have any impact on either the area or routes that we cover on ADA. Mr. Gonzalez said that it wouldn’t and Ms. Shotland explained that CTfastrak is a restricted fixed guideway, similar to CTTRANSIT express routes, and it is not considered local service. ADA is only complementary to the local fixed route. Mr. Hall complimented the ADA service. He went on to describe a 95-year-old acquaintance with macular degeneration who is completely independent because of the paratransit service.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for Program Presentations. Ms. Morton discussed the Statewide Insurance Consortium. She mentioned that site visits are currently underway. The purpose of the meetings is to address concerns that the member agencies may have in regard to claim status, trends, risk management and best practices. Additionally, the District and CTDOT will be seeking input on the current reimbursement process for physical damage claims including the utilization of NIAB in the process. There appears to be some confusion among insurance consortium members on the exact procedures for reimbursement. The District will work with CTDOT to finalize standardized procedures for all members once the feedback is evaluated.

Regarding the Drug & Alcohol program Ms. Morton mentioned that there are two training sessions that she has scheduled. One being the Designated Employer Representative and the second is the Reasonable Suspicion Training. Both are scheduled for Wednesday, December 17th in the District’s new conference room. Our contractor for the program, Occupational Drug Testing has developed DER and Reasonable Suspicion Training materials that are tailored to cover the required Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration content. The core objective of on-site training is to effectively teach each of the listed core topics while motivating the attendees to use the new skills to help promote an effective and DOT compliant drug and alcohol testing program.

Mr. Mitchell then asked Mr. Gonzalez to present his next report. Mr. Gonzalez stated that he is evaluating telephone contractors. He said that he just received the last proposal and a recommendation is forthcoming. He next updated the Directors on his latest insurance consortium member site visits. Mr. Gonzalez also noted that he has provided Ms. Shotland with a list of Union Station projects that he would like to see performed in this fiscal year. He stated that they will be sitting down to discuss in the near future and to prioritize that list. Next he said that the District will be hosting our 4th annual food drive. Collection receptacles are set up in Union Station, at First Transit, and on the ADA Paratransit vehicles. All donations go to the local Food Bank.

Mr. Gardow commented that Mr. Gonzalez previously mentioned a discount on fuel for the buses. Mr. Gardow then inquired about the fuel type being discounted, and Mr. Gonzalez explained that the discount was acquired on CNG. He stated that last month’s reimbursement was $2,800.00. Mr. Gardow pointed out that he thought that on one of the financial reports he noted an “unfavorable” remark for fuel. Ms. Vo-Le pointed out that fuel costs were, in fact, under budget. Both Ms. Morton and Ms. Fry elaborated on how the District locks into future pricing with diesel fuel.

Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to present her report. Ms. Fry provided a Grants and Contract department update:

Passenger Information Display
International Display Systems (IDS) equipment has been installed and operational except for the display at the new Transit Center. Testing of all the equipment components has taken place. During the first week of December the system was tested and became fully operational except for the boarding information and some updates to the informational kiosk.

Sigourney Street
A meeting was held with City staff, District staff, and the consultant to discuss and plan outreach to those whose property abuts the project. A series of meetings with property owners/stakeholders were held this week and a public meeting will be held on the 15th before the A&E team can move to final design stage.

New Britain
Fuss & O’Neill and the City have made great progress with the design concept. A preferred design will be move forward to the design phase. This phase of work is funded by the City and the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Transit Enhancements
The District has received costs estimates for the first phase of the project from only one contractor. Things got a bit complicated with the early snow and the low temperatures. In addition, the DOT requested that each contractor submit an application for the encroachment permit needed for construction along state roads. This has added time to the project and has brought it to a decision point as to whether it is advisable to pour concrete during the winter months. Shelters will be arriving towards the middle of January.

Vehicle Procurement
The District received four proposals in response to its RFP for vehicle manufacturers. A Selection Committee has been established and information provided to them that would facilitate their review of the technical portion of the proposals. An initial meeting has been scheduled for December 18th.

Building Demolition Services-148 Roberts Street, East Hartford
The District issued an IFB for building demolition services for the two structures at 148 Roberts Street. A pre-bid and walk thru took place on December 4th. An Addendum will be issued by the end of the week. Bids are due on December 22, 2014.

Mansfield Transportation Center:
As mentioned at the previous meeting, the District staff is conducting close out activities for this project. The last construction/project close out meeting took place this week. It is expected that grant activities will be finalized by the end of December and the grant close out with the quarterly report.

Enfield Intermodal Center
The Town has heard form NU indicating their intent to discuss the terms for a Purchase and Sales Agreement for the parcels included in the project. The Town needs to complete the Purchase and Sale Agreement in order to gain access to the properties to conduct a Phase II environmental assessment. The Town is working with the Planning and Zoning Commission to implement the new zoning districts within Thompsonville. The Magic Carpet is averaging 85 passengers per day. The Casket building rehabilitation continues by the Economic Development Corporation. A public private partnership has been formed to redevelop the building into a mixed use facility that includes transportation.

TIGER IV
Construction activities for the Transit Center are at 85% complete. Phase III, office space is substantially completed. The transit center passenger waiting area and the canopy is still in progress. Construction activities continue for all the street components, Union Place construction is 65% complete. Installation of concrete sidewalk, pavers, precast colored concrete treads has taken place at the main entrance stairs. The railing installation should be completed after the New Year. Work on the vaults will be done during the next construction season. Minimal work will be done during winter shut down. Bushnell Park North is 15% complete. Some of the wall has been formed, poured and brownstone veneer installed on portions of it. Winter shut down work has been approved and includes veneer installation and foundation preparation for the promenade. Asylum/Pearl/State House Square is 35% complete. Work on Spruce Street was completed as well as curbing along Asylum at Main Streets. Foundations for signal mast arms will be installed weather permitting. Winter shut down work has been approved and includes the installation of mast arms and signals.

148 Roberts Street
It is expected that 50% design documents will be available the second week of January. A meeting will take place at that time to review the project and provide comments. A revised cost estimate was provided to CTDOT, the building and site work are estimated at $15M. The District has issued an IFB for building demolition services.

Mr. Hayes questioned if the Enfield Magic Carpet bus can be expanded to surrounding towns having only the Dial-a-Ride service for age 60 and over. Ms. Fry provided some history on the Enfield Magic Carpet bus, and explained that it is funded by New Freedom from DOT. It is unknown if DOT will request additional projects, the last request being over a year ago. If a new request is made, information will be shared with the Board. Mr. Hayes then asked if Enfield is operating the Magic Carpet bus independently. Ms. Fry stated that the service’s operating costs are funded through the state. Mr. Pitcock asked if the bridge in New Britain has a shopping center to the north and downtown to the south, and about the project limits. Ms. Fry acknowledged the bridges’ location, and outlined the project limits as Columbus Boulevard to East Main Street, which is past the bridge.

Ms. Shotland provided her report for the Board which included:

New ADA Paratransit Agreement
The implementation of a statewide reorganization of the State’s regional planning organizations resulting in the Central CT Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA) operations to cease and discontinue ADA Transit Services effective December 31, 2014 for the towns of Berlin, Bristol, and Plainville and the City of New Britain has provided the District with the opportunity to enter into an agreement with the State to administer over that program.

Additionally, Ms. Shotland stated that the negotiation has allowed the District to extend its original agreement with the state along with the new paratransit operation through 2025. The financial assistance over the course of the term is $237 ml. The District has been given the approval to hire 2.5 FTEs to assist with the new operation and service.

Union Station Tour
Congressman Richard Neal/MA and Congressman John Larson/CT and Commissioner James Redeker led a group of Western MA local business leaders on a tour of Hartford’s Union Station. Congressman Neal’s office had asked Ms. Shotland to highlight the economic development opportunities and the renovations that have taken place in Hartford’s Union Station as an example of the future possibilities for the Springfield Union Station. The tour was very successful and was brought positive publicity to the District.

Mr. Giordano questioned if the attendees at the Union Station tour were riding the train or bus. Ms. Shotland indicated they took Peter Pan out of Springfield. Mr. Mitchell added that they took the bus to New Haven, and then the train to Union Station, Hartford.

Northeast Passenger Transportation Association
Ms. Shotland stated to the Directors that she will be taking the reigns as President of NEPTA again, and that the biennial Conference & Expo will be held in Hartford once again. The date of the conference is March 26 and March 27, 2015. She will provide the Directors with additional information early next year.

Rail Update
Ms. Shotland stated that she continues to work with CTDOT and Day Pitney to firm up outstanding issues pertaining to the CTrail project. She said that she recently delivered a right of entry to the state to enable them to continue the contracting process. It does not give them the right to come on the property yet, but if the state acquires the easement by eminent domain then the District does not need to amend the lease with Amtrak.

Ms. Cassidy wanted to know if there was a problem with taxi drivers still using Spruce Street even though the cabs have been relocated to Allen Street. Ms. Shotland explained that the taxis will not return to Spruce Street, and that Allen Street is a logical place for them. As the construction continues Hartford’s Union Station has placed good signage in the Great Hall and in the transportation center directing passengers to the new location. She said that travelers can still access the elevator to avoid carrying suitcases up and down the steps. She noted that some taxi drivers quickly drop off passengers on Spruce Street, but linger to potentially pick up additional fares. She also noted that there are issues that are a concern to the District, and the intent is to elevate them to CTDOT.

Mr. Lord expressed a concern regarding the lack of lighting on Allen Street. Ms. Shotland stated that she will look into this.

Ms. Gamble commented that her state representative inquired about member town representatives and others attending a future Board of Directors meeting. Ms. Shotland stated that the District would welcome representatives from any town, but suggested that a separate tour and/or meeting in the spring would be a good time to elaborate on the construction and development initiatives that the District has undertaken at Union Station.

Mr. Mitchell next called on Mr. Hayes to provide the December CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting report. The summary of the committee meeting is as follows:

Sustainable Knowledge Corridor update: CRCOG has completed their Sustainable Knowledge Corridor project, which was a HUD funded several year effort undertaken in cooperation with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. The District has been a consortium member throughout the planning process and will likely be involved as the program moves forward to implementation.

I-84 Viaduct Replacement Project: Four alternatives have been developed that will be evaluated: rebuild as is, rebuild but with a 5 ft. higher elevation, rebuild at a lower elevation and move the railroad tracks northward, rebuild as a tunnel

Planning Studies: CRCOG is recommending that two planning studies be recommended to CTDOT for funding. The first being Silver Lane in East Hartford and the second being Route 5 in East Windsor.

Mr. Mitchell asked if there was any new business to be brought before the Board. He reminded the Directors to place the 2015 Board Meetings on their calendars. Mr. Lord announced that there is an I-84 Viaduct Study meeting at the Hartford Public Library to be held on January 21, 2015. Mr. Mitchell went on to discuss the most recent Freedom of Information Commission Hearing regarding an issue brought before them against the District. The case was dismissed, but an appeal has been filed with Superior Court. He noted that the District’s attorneys will work on a “not to exceed” basis to limit expenses. Mr. Hall questioned the amount spent to date on the lawsuit. Ms. Shotland stated that the most recent FOIA cost the District approximately $25K. Mr. Hall also asked if the FOIC will incur any expenses from the lawsuit. Mr. Mitchell stated that they would, but they use their own attorneys. Mr. Mitchell assured him that the District will keep the Board informed as suit progresses.

Mr. Mitchell then extended thanks and best wishes to Kim Morton from the Board for her employment at the District. Ms. Morton will be leaving for another position at the end of the month. Ms. Morton expressed appreciation for the Board and District staff, as well.

There being no further business brought before the Board, Mr. Bonzani moved that the meeting be adjourned. Upon seconding by Mr. Giordano, the motion passed by a vote of 34.05 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention. The Regular Meeting was adjourned at 8:23 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


_____________________
James McCavanagh
Secretary

Adopted: 2/05/15