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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

 

REGULAR MEETING
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
GREATER HARTFORD TRANSIT DISTRICT
Hartford Connecticut
November 6, 2014

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

At 7:07 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 at the Capitol Region Council of Governments office at 241 Main Street, Hartford, Connecticut.  The following Directors were present: Joan Gamble, Bloomfield; Marilyn Pet (arrived at 7:13pm) and Peter J. Bonzani, East Hartford; Stephen F. Mitchell and Kevin J. Mooney, Enfield; Frank Lord and Jennifer Cassidy, Hartford; Paul McNamara, Manchester; John M. Kelly and William G. Hall, Newington; Ferguson R. Jansen, Simsbury; Gary S. Pitcock, South Windsor; A. David Giordano, West Hartford; Brendan T. Flynn and Peter Gardow, Wethersfield; Mark S. Etre and Mary A. Oliver, Vernon, David Raney and Ricardo Quintero, Windsor. District staff present were Vicki L. Shotland, Executive Director; Kimberlee A. Morton, Director of Fiscal and Administrative Services; DJ Gonzalez, Operations Administrator; Sandra E. Sheehan, Director of Grants and Contract Administration, Sandy Fry, Grants and Procurement Program Coordinator, and Valerie Ellis, ADA Paratransit Eligibility Coordinator. Mr. Reed Risteen was present representing Blum Shapiro. The Chairman asked if there was any member of the public who wished to address the board. There were none.

Ms. Gamble then moved adoption of the September 18, 2014 meeting minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Quintero, and approved by a vote of 32.76 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstention.

The Chairman next presented the proposed Calendar Year 2015 meeting dates, noting in particular the Annual Meeting that is scheduled for May 21, 2015. Mr. Lord moved acceptance of the Calendar Year 2015 meeting dates, which was seconded by Mr. Flynn and approved unanimously by a vote of 32.76 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstention.

Mr. Mitchell then recessed the Regular Meeting at 7:10 p.m. and called to order the Public Hearing related to the Proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Revisions. Ms. Morton provided an overview of the FY2014 financial activity by fund and agency-wide. Total financial activity during the year totaled $25,515,923. Major funding sources were CTDOT (69.0%), Federal (20.0%) and Local (4.0%). Special revenue activity was reviewed by program and a list of major capital projects was provided. The Deferred revenue account, to be used for future transit asset acquisition, has a fund balance of $650,659 and the General unrestricted fund balance totals $737,338. Spruce Street Parking Lot revenues continued an upward trend, increasing 10.79% over prior year earnings. Union Station Rental Income also increased approximately 4.47% over prior year.  Revenue over expenses in the amount of $673,401 was recognized in the Enterprise Fund. 

Mr. Mitchell asked if there were any comments from the public and subsequently inquired of the board. Mr. Etre asked if another term besides “net profit” should be used, such as “enterprise net increase” “positive margin” or “positive net cost flow”. Mr. Mitchell acknowledged the concern.   Ms. Oliver made a statement regarding specific funds with a pass-through responsibility. Ms. Morton stated that there are specific funds which are pass-through costs.  She elaborated that everything is managed independently in accordance with all federal; grant and state contract provisions.  The Chairman asked if anyone from the public had any comment or question, and then if there were any other comments or questions from the board. The Chairman declared the Public Hearing closed and reconvened the Regular Meeting at 7:17 p.m. Upon motion by Mr. Flynn and second by Ms. Gamble, the Proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Appropriations were approved unanimously by a vote of 35.06 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstention.

The Chairman then yielded the floor to Reed Risteen of Blum Shapiro. Mr. Risteen provided an overview of the audit process and timeline including pre-audit, on-site field work, and audit committee meetings. Now that the budget revision approval process is complete, the reports can be issued. He then noted that the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting had again been awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2013 and that the agency will submit for FY2014 as well.  BSC will issue an unmodified (clean) opinion related to the FY2014 financial statements. A significant weakness was noted in the Federal Single Audit in the area of procurement control procedures regarding suspended and debarred contractors. Mr. Risteen noted that the federal finding was very minor, even picayune.  It was further noted that the District has internally addressed the concern with appropriate corrective action. He provided an overview document and reviewed its contents, including net revenue, net liquid asset balance, and accrued OPEB liability. He further discussed the Federal and State Single audit requirements. There were no issues with either audit and Mr. Risteen noted that the agency is in an extremely sound financial position.

The Chairman asked if there were any questions or comments from the board regarding the presentation. Mr. Gardow asked if as much funding will be received the next fiscal year because there was a change in net assets from State, Local, and Federal funding sources. Ms. Shotland stated that a budget is provided to the state each fiscal year based on previous year’s financial statistics and upon forecasting strategies.  She stated that federal grants are not affected by the audit results. Mr. Gardow commented that there was almost a $700,000 change in net assets, and that there is a surplus that could go back to the funding sources. Ms. Morton explained that is primarily in the Enterprise Fund which is separate from the Revenue Fund. Union Station, as well as the parking lot, is its own entity.  Ms. Oliver then asked about the Enterprise Fund, and if there have been any other improvements in the parking lot. Ms. Oliver also asked if this is where part of the money goes.  Mr. Mitchell indicated that it could be. Ms. Shotland added that if maintenance and repairs are needed on the parking lot, it is included in Pro Park’s management contract and is considered part of the Union Station complex. The funding also comes out of 5307 funds in some cases for the parking lot’s capital upkeep               

Ms. Gamble recommended acceptance of the year-end audit reports, which was seconded by Mr. Raney and accepted unanimously by a vote of 35.06 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for presentation of the monthly financial report. Ms. Morton said that year-to-date ADA fare, advertising and performance standard revenues were on target through the month of September. The State ADA subsidy fell short of the budgetary projection as it is directly tied to expenses. Overall expenses fell short of budgetary projections by $77,693.  Notable expense overruns were in the Professional services line items primarily due to the payment of annual maintenance contracts for ADA IT support equipment. She noted that under budget items were in the area of fuel and ADA services. Mr. Mooney questioned the format of the document. Ms. Morton and Ms. Shotland both explained that the full year’s budget is represented in the first column.  Regarding the General Fund, Ms. Morton noted that member town contributions have been paid in full and revenue over expense through the month of September was $76,388. Ms. Oliver asked for an explanation of “travel expenses”. Ms. Morton said it represents travel for meetings, conferences, subscriptions, dues, training, etc. Ms. Shotland explained that anything which cannot be charged to a state program for staff is charged directly to the GL’s unrestricted fund, never back to the state.  Ms. Morton went on to report on the Enterprise Fund, and that all major revenue sources are exceeding budgeted forecasts. She also reported that parking revenue continues to increase in the Spruce Street Lot (up 2.48% over similar prior year period). Ms. Morton noted that we will now begin to see a leveling in the percentage increase in revenues from the parking lot as the automated revenue collection system has been in operation for one year now. The month-to-month comparison now represents a reflection of increased patronage only.  Mr. Hall asked if there was a procedure to follow when there is a problem with the unmanned parking booth. Ms. Shotland explained that ProPark has a command center inside the Great Hall overseeing the lot with real-time cameras. There is also a button to push to open the gate arm, or security can go out and fix a problem if a parker needs assistance. There being no further discussion, Mr. Quintero motioned acceptance of the monthly financial report, which was seconded by Mr. McNamara, and accepted unanimously by a vote of 35.06 yea, 0.00 nay and 0.00 abstention.

Mr. Mitchell then asked for Program Presentations. Mr. Gonzalez reported that CTDOT requested changes for the manner in which ADA statistics are presented to them monthly. The Directors will note that there are variances from January through June 2014 on line #17 of the report. CTDOT wanted Subscription Trips (on line 16) in addition to Demand Trips (on line 17) to be added into Total Trips Provided (line 6). Mr. Gonzalez then when on to state that the last two CNG buses arrived and are now registered with the DMV and will be placed in service once the radios and MDT units are installed. Once again these were the replacement vehicles for the two that were involved in an accident last winter. They were on a flatbed headed for CT when the vehicle was in an accident. Mr. Gonzalez also said that fleet maintenance is continuing to experience trouble with engine failure regarding a number of the 2010 buses. He has been working with Ford Motor Company representatives for 50% reimbursement for these engine replacements. To date approximately eleven engines have been replaced, and Ford has paid approximately $6K per engine. However, they are now refusing to pay for the additional replacements. Discussion is ongoing and he tries to elevate the issue for an equitable resolution. Mr. Gonzalez next explained to the Board that we have already found a significant savings by utilizing a new CNG fueling station. Based on a .40 cent reimbursement per gallon the anticipated annual savings should be approximately $17K.

Mr.  Gonzalez continued with his presentation. He stated that the District has additional Request for Proposals out. He stated that Ms. Sheehan will go into more detail about the vehicle procurement and that there is an additional RFP out for HVAC. Mr. Gonzalez stated that he is working with Total Communications regarding the District’s current telephone system, hoping that we may realize a $6K savings annually if we switch vendors. He next provided an update on the statewide insurance consortium. He has begun to visit our consortium members.  To date he has met with three out of the eleven members. CTDOT representatives, the consortium’s insurance broker, and Kim Morton also attend these meetings. Discussion items include, but are not limited to; safety initiatives, best practices, policies & procedures, and loss reports. In conjunction with this, Mr. Gonzalez has set up wheelchair securement training for the consortium scheduled for January 7, 2015. This is just one of a number of training opportunities that consortium members are offered. Mr. Gonzalez added that he is working with Propark management on abandoned vehicles in the Spruce Street Parking Lot. He has noticed that some vehicles have been parked for extended periods of time. After thoroughly investigating some are removed by being towed. Mr. Mitchell asked how many miles are on the two buses that need engine replacement. Mr. Gonzalez stated that there is about 145,000 – 159,000 miles on those buses. Mary Oliver asked if the buses run on diesel. Mr. Gonzalez confirmed that they are diesel vehicles.   

Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Fry to present her report.  Ms. Fry discussed the following:

Passenger Information Display
International Display Systems (IDS) equipment has been installed except for the display at the new Transit Center and the one in the Great Hall. Testing of all the equipment components took place during the last few weeks. Acceptance of equipment took place on Tuesday. System administrator training was held on Wednesday and individual user training was held today.  The system will be fully operational in the next few weeks.

Sigourney Street
35% design documents were submitted for initial review. 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 meeting was held with CTTRANSIT to discuss local bus stops in the corridor. 

New Britain
Fuss & O’Neill has commenced design after approval from City Council and completion of the scope of work negotiation. The design work is funded by the City and the state Department of Economic and Community Development. 

Ms. Oliver asked if Segways might be available for rent in the transportation center. Ms. Shotland said that Ms. Fry has been working on the bike share program.  Ms. Fry stated that bike share is not available regionally yet, but the goal is to develop a system that would be operational statewide. Segways have not been considered to date. Mr. Lord asked about bike racks being made available in public places. Ms. Sheehan said that some of the bike racks were installed, and more will be installed as part of the Tiger Project.  Ms. Pet asked if the bike racks are filled to capacity. Ms. Fry said they are not full, but as the train service increases there will be an increase in their use. Mr. Etre mentioned that in China they are using a prepaid card for specific services.  He inquired whether the District would consider future implementation of something similar for parking, renting bikes, or for use with other amenities in and around Union Station. Ms. Oliver also commented on the recent use of Apple swipe cards to take over credit cards.                 

Mr. Mitchell then called on Ms. Sheehan to present her report. Ms. Sheehan reported the following:

Transit Enhancements
The District has selected two firms to provide construction services for the installation of passenger waiting shelters in the region. We have asked the selected firms to provide costs estimates for the first phase of the project which includes the community of Windsor Locks. The District has approved the plans for the manufacturing of the shelters. Expected delivery is within eight weeks. 

Vehicle Procurement
The District issued a request for proposals for the joint procurement of vehicles. This procurement includes five transit districts in Connecticut. There was a well attended pre-proposal conference and five addenda documents have been issued. The due date of proposals has been extended to November 14, 2014.

MANSFIELD
We are currently conducting close out activities for this project. All punch list items have been addressed. There are some warranty issues that are being worked on. It is expected that the grant will be closed out by the end of December.
ENFIELD
The Town has heard form NU indicating their intent discuss the terms for a Purchase and Sales Agreement for the parcels included in the project. A meeting will be held in the next couple of weeks. 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 bus service 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 75% complete. Phase III work continues with all the demolition work completed, most of the new utility work is complete; the ceiling is partially completed as well as the floor. Work on the conference room, the transit center passenger waiting area and the canopy is still on-going.  Construction activities continue for all the street components, Union Place construction is 65% complete. Installation of concrete sidewalk, pavers, precast colored concrete treads including an accessible colored concrete ramp has taken place at the South Entrance stairs and at the Hot Tomato’s restaurant entrance as well as the northeast and southeast areas. Catch basin installation for the traffic table was completed. Concrete sidewalk installation and pavers in the northwest area is currently underway. Work on the vaults is pending completion of revised design documents.  Bushnell Park North is 15% complete. Excavation for the park walls continues around the park perimeter. Some of the wall has been formed, poured and brownstone veneer installed on portions of it. The Granite curbing has been installed along Asylum, Trinity and Jewell Streets.  Installation of drainage and conduits has taken place along Asylum and Jewell Streets and the bus stop pad has been installed.  Asylum/Pearl/State House Square is 40-45% complete. Work has progressed steadily for this component of the project including installation of granite curbing, sidewalk ramps, curb line bump outs, roadway crossings, bus stop concrete pads, traffic and lighting foundations at various locations including: State House Square, American Row, Prospect Street, State Street, Market Street, Main Street, Asylum Street, Allyn Street and, High Street. Work on Spruce Street began the last week of October and it is expected to be completed in the next two weeks. Taxi service was relocated to Allyn Street.  Mr. Lord asked about the procedure for getting from buses, tracks, and/or the elevator when the cabs are moved from Spruce to Allyn Street during construction. Ms. Shotland said that the entrances and exits will be clearly marked for egress for all Union Station visitors. Ms. Cassidy asked who is responsible for wayfaring of pedestrians during construction. Ms. Sheehan said responsibility would be with the BETA Group and the City of Hartford.   

148 Roberts Street
A review of 30% design documents took place in mid October. The designer will be incorporating the staff comments as they move ahead with design. An equipment report was issued by Wendel and reviewed by District staff. The Inland and Wetlands Commission meeting and Public Hearing held on September 23rd resulted in approval of the inland and wetland application. The District submitted for initial review the site plan application to the Town. It was suggested by Mike Dayton, East Hartford’s P&Z Administrator, that our submission be postponed until the Commission’s internal workshop took place on October 21st. This was recommended in order to receive comments from the Town Engineer prior to final submission of documents to the Commission in order to revise the site plan to include a 25 foot buffer, to submit site utilization and architectural detail, to prepare drawings and narrative to demonstrate how parking will work with the flow of traffic on the site and the relation to bus flow in and out of the site. The Site Plan Application was approved on that day as well as the Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Application. Demolition plans are almost complete.  Mr. Pitcock asked about seeing employees in the Roberts Street parking lot, but no personal vehicles on the property.  Mr. Gonzalez said that some employees are transported by their supervisors, and some park their own vehicles later in the day.  Mr. Pitcock then stated that employees may want to access the trail along the river behind the property to get to and from work.

Mr. Mitchell then called upon Ms. Shotland to provide her report.  She went on to state that she was invited to attend a 1-day conference with the Region I FTA Administrator in Portland, ME on November 13th. The summit addressed a wide variety of topics including safety, intergovernmental coordination, and improvements to engineering, design, and environmental documentation with a goal of improving timeframes for project delivery. The goals of each session are to identify and document best practices, and discuss challenges and explore opportunities to increase coordination across jurisdictions.   Ms. Shotland said that earlier in the day she attended the New England Parking Council’s (NEPC) annual Municipal Parking Forum. The membership is comprised of parking and transportation professionals seeking to share knowledge and build business relationships through networking and educational opportunities.   Ms. Shotland made mention that she placed in the Director’s folders a detailed memo addressed to them on the status of the District’s negotiations with CTDOT in regard to the upcoming NH-H-S rail project. She also stated that inside of the folder there is a schedule of meetings for the Northeast Corridor rail line.  The next meeting in this area will be held in New Haven on 11/10/14. The consulting firm of FHI interacted with over 325 stakeholders, handing out information bookmarks and discussing the program in the transportation center on October 31st.  Ms. Shotland elaborated in more detail about the results of the Triennial Review which were located in their packages. She stated that the District responded immediately to the one finding in the procurement area. The one remaining task to clear the finding is for the District to show a search on the next procurement transaction over $25K on the SAM’s (System for Award Management) website for excluded parties. The actual search will take place in mid November. This is the due date for the RFP requesting proposals for the District’s vehicle procurement.

Ms. Shotland mentioned that the taxi cabs have been relocated to their new permanent location on Allyn Street directly across the street from Union Station. The transition was as smooth as possible due to the consistent communication that the District had with the cab companies. She also spoke about a program that the District would like to implement based on a presentation that she attended at APTA by an organization located outside of Boston. Cell Phones for Soldiers are a national nonprofit serving troops and veterans with free communication services and emergency funding. Founded in 2004 by a 12 & 13 year old brother and sister, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided U.S. troops with more than 210 million minutes, has distributed more than 3 million prepaid international phone calling minutes, and has provided over 11.3 million cell phones which have been recycled. The District’s intention is to place a collection box in the transportation center and donate to a good cause. The MBTA has been working with the organization since 2012.  Ms. Shotland stated both Mr. Gonzalez and she took the CTfastrak tour. She told the Directors that in their packages they would find a brochure and if they would go on the website noted on the front of that brochure that they could take a virtual tour which may interest many of them.  CTfastrak is still slated to open at the end of March 2015.  Ms. Cassidy asked if Ms. Shotland could schedule a CTfastrak tour for the Board. Ms. Fry said they are starting to set up tours for CTDOT and CTTRANSIT staff.  Ms. Shotland advised the Board to look at the brochure provided, and to view the CTfastrak video on their website.  She also said that negotiations are being held with a prospective tenant for the retail space in the new transit center, and for a national ATM provider which would offset operating expenses in the new transit locale.  Ms. Shotland provided the Board with the news that the District will be administering the ADA paratransit contract that is currently administered by the Central CT Regional Planning agency, which organization will cease to exist at the end of the year. She stated that a meeting will take place with CTDOT to finalize the agreement.  Mr. Lord asked if representatives from New Britain and other towns will now be needed. Ms. Shotland said this is not necessarily so, but we could reach out to New Britain in the future if they were interested.  Ms. Shotland then notified the Directors that Kim Morton will be leaving the District in December as she has just been offered the Executive Director position with Norwalk Transit as Louis Schulman is retiring after 38 years in the position. Ms. Shotland stated that this is an outstanding opportunity for Ms. Morton. She also noted that the position has been posted in various newspapers and on-line sites and that she will be aggressively pursuing a replacement.

Mr. Mitchell reported that the October CRCOG Transportation Committee meeting was cancelled and the November one has not yet occurred. Mr. Mitchell then provided the Directors with an update on Mr. St. John’s health status.  Mr. Mooney asked about the Board information going totally green.  Ms. Shotland pointed out that it was difficult based on various issues that precluded some Directors from receiving information electronically.  There being no further business brought before the Board, Ms. Gamble moved that the meeting be adjourned. Upon seconding by Mr. Quintero, the motion passed by a vote of 35.06 yea, 0.00 nay, and 0.00 abstention. The Regular Meeting was adjourned at 8:43 p.m. 
                                                           
Respectfully submitted,


                                                                       _______________________
                                                                        James McCavanagh
                                                                        Secretary                                 
                                                                                                                                       
 Adopted: 12/11/14