December 15, 2016 Meeting

12-15-2016 Agenda and Minutes

Agenda

  • Public Comment
  • Approval of minutes of October 27, 2016
  • November 2017 Ridership Report
  • October 2017 Financial Update
  • Marketing and Planning Update
  • Maintenance and Facilities Update
  • Pension Plan Update
  • Authorization to Change Health Care Plans
  • HR Update
  • Westport Update
  • State Update
  • CEO Update
  • Approval of the 2017 Commissioners’ Meeting Schedule
  • Any Other Business Properly Brought before the Board
  • Next Meeting January 17, 2016
  • Adjournment

 

Draft Minutes

Attending
Norwalk Transit District Commissioners: Andrew Glickson and Sheldon Miller
Norwalk Transit District Staff:Kimberlee Morton, CEO; Nancy Carroll, Chief Operating Officer; Lynette Brayboy, Manager of Human Resources; Britt Liotta, COO in transition; Steven Burka, CFAO; and, Hal Alvord, Director of Maintenance and Facilities

The meeting was called to order at 9:05 AM and a quorum was determined to be present. 

Public Comment
Members of the public who wished to address the Commissioners were asked to do so.  There were none. 

Approval of Minutes of October 27, 2016
The minutes of the October 27, 2016 meeting of the Commissioners were unanimously approved as presented. 

November 2017 Ridership Report
Mr. Liotta reviewed in detail the attached Operations Report highlighting the continuing downward trend in fixed-route and shuttle services.  Door-to-door services were slightly down for the month in Norwalk and Stamford.  Westport continues to experience double digit increases. 

October 2017 Financial Update
Mr. Burka provided an update on the 2016 audit. It should be complete in the next couple of weeks and the auditors have informed us there are no major findings.

Mr. Burka presented financial data through October that shows an operating deficit to date. With commitments from the State, Westport, and Stamford to fund their deficits this year that have gone previously unfunded, coupled with lower healthcare costs and route cuts taking effect, Mr. Burka projected we will end the year with only a small operating deficit. This will allow us to apply some of the City of Norwalk grant funds to our Line Of Credit and reduce debt burden. The State owes us back funds for operating deficits in prior years. If these are received, our debt will be further reduced. If they do not pay, and there is a cut in State grants beginning in July 2017, we will have cash flow issues that will be difficult to mitigate.

We continue to work with TAG and the City of Stamford on resolving financial contract issues.

Marketing and Planning Update
Ms. Scavelli’s reported the following.

Developed two marketing plans: 1) Service and Fare Changes and 2) Release of Passenger Information Tools

New cash fare stickers on fare boxes and fare pricing Rail Cards aboard vehicles

Major updates to existing website including schedules, maps, fares and policies and procedures  

Roll out of passenger information tools (e.g. myStop app is now live and available on iOS and Android phones; URL for interactive service map to be updated to www.mystop.norwalktransit.com; and utilization of E-boards at HUB and SNRR and on-board announcers)

Continued weekly data collection with Operations and IT staff regarding Passenger Miles Survey

Along with Dir. of Maintenance, Hal Alvord, develop clearer policies regarding on-board advertising for outside companies or organizations

Maintenance and Facilities Update

Mr. Alvord reported that the facility analysis was progressing on schedule.  

Planning for the fare and service changes is ongoing.  Switching out bus decals, signs, and rail cards providing appropriate notification of all the changes is underway.  Fareboxes are programed and ready for the switch over on January 8, 2017.

The previously vacated mechanic position is now filled.  

Pension Plan Update
Pension update was presented. NTD will be setting up new 401(a) plans with Empower beginning in February. Vesting will be added for newly hired administration employees. Existing accounts will be migrated except for the 401(k) accounts as they are not qualified plans; we await notice from the IRS regarding disposition of these accounts. Employees will have multiple accounts to manage and some may be confused; we will assist them as needed.

Authorization to Change Health Care Plans
Ms. Morton reminded the Commissioners’ at the last meeting they had approved the renewal of the existing healthcare employee benefit with Connecticare based on the final recommendation of the broker.  In reviewing the final negotiation documents Ms. Morton realized that the broker did not entertain quotes from the State of Connecticut’s, CT Partnership Plan that is now newly available to all governmental agencies.  Ms. Morton requested that quotes be obtained prior to renewing with Connecticare.  The end result was a significant cost reduction under the state plan.  The Union has signed an agreement accepting the new plan.

Mr. Burka reported that the healthcare plan is switching to the CT Partnership Plan, which will save the company money due to lower premiums. In addition, we are eliminating the payments to the health savings accounts, which will save the company over $100K/year. The new medical plan will have no deductible, saving employees over $80,000 if they were to spend all of their previous deductible. Mr. Burka explained the HEP compliant component of the plan and penalties for non-compliance.  NTD had to commit to 3 years but premium increases in July are expected to be much lower than Connecticare or other providers.

The staff recommendation is to withdraw the previous approval in support of the renewal with Connecticare and approve participation for a three year period with the CT Partnership Plan.  A motion was made and unanimously approved. 

HR Update
Ms. Brayboy reported has distributed a draft Employee Handbook which is currently under review.  It is expected that it will be presented at the next meeting. 

She highlighted the upcoming events. 

  • Employee meet and greet on December 22, 2016
  • Ms. Carroll’s retirement luncheon on December 20, 2016

Ms. Brayboy advised that open enrollment under the new CT Partnership Plan is underway.  

Westport Transit District 
Ms. Morton reported that the Westport Transit District Board of Directors received approval from the Board of Finance for an additional appropriation for FY 2017.  This week they will conduct hearings regarding a fare increase and structure change.  Final service recommendations continue to be ongoing. 

State Update
Ms. Morton reported that she and Mr. Burka will meet with State representatives on December 21, 2016 to follow-up on all open items which total $1.9 million. 

Ms. Morton provided a brief update on the CTDOT’s budget proposal which recommends at 50% reduction to public transit in year FY 2018 and full elimination of the subsidies in FY 2019.  Ms. Morton stated that she did not believe that this drastic proposal would ever get support from the legislature.  However she did feel that we would be challenged with another significant funding cut probably in the range of 10 to 20 percent for fiscal year 2018.  In anticipation she advised we need to immediately go back to the drawing board so we are prepared for July 1st in the event such draconian cuts become a reality.  This will include visiting a fare increase, structuring changes and service reductions, and bus advertising.  We will continue to watch this carefully.

CEO Update
Ms. Morton reported union contract negotiations remains ongoing.  We have formally agreed to the healthcare component offered through the CT Partnership Plan for a three-year period.  The next negotiations session is January 24, 2017

Ms. Morton provided the Commissioners’ with correspondence from Mr. Sheehan, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency.  A detailed discussion ensured and a formal response from legal counsel will be forthcoming.

Approval of the 2017 Commissioners’ Meeting Schedule
The attached schedule was unanimously approved. 

Any Other Business Properly Brought before the Board
No further business was brought before the Board.

Next Meeting January 26, 2017
The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 26, 2017 and will be held at the offices of the Norwalk Transit District at 9:00 a.m. 

Adjournment
The meeting adjourned at 10:15 am.