|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00|
By Saturday, Jan. 1, the city will officially transfer all employees, money, equipment and other assets it controls in Cottonwood Area Transit to a regional transportation authority that will operate the system going forward.
The decision will cost one CAT employee their job, but is expected to reduce costs to the city and further the goal of a truly regional transportation that links county population centers. Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority plans to hire all but one CAT employee when the agreement goes into effect.
Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with NAIPTA to accomplish the transfer at its regular meeting Nov. 16.
The agreement caps the city’s financial obligation to support CAT at $230,000 a year, money that will come out of the city’s Highway User Revenue Funds distributed by the federal government.
The city will also transfer to NAIPTA its right to receive any future grant funds it has been awarded for CAT.
Existing routes will continue as detailed in the 2009 Verde Valley Rural Transit Five Year Plan.
The move completes one of council’s top strategic priorities from 2009, merging CAT into NAIPTA in order to create a regional transportation system, according to General Services Manager Richard Faust.
The economic downturn raised concerns among representatives from both NAIPTA and the city about the potential financial outcome of the deal and delayed finalization of the agreement for several months, Faust reported.
Weekly meetings between the city and the transit authority that started in September resulted in the successful conclusion of the agreement, according to Faust.
“The city’s relationship with NAIPTA has been very productive and successful,” Faust said.
The partnership between NAIPTA and the city in recent years resulted in the successful creation of the Lynx system between Sedona and Cottonwood. NAIPTA also conducted extensive public surveys that resulted in the three routes CAT uses today, he reported.
Faust said NAIPTA is uniquely qualified to take over CAT because of its success at raising grant money to support the system. For example, the transit authority succeeded in raising $80,000 in grant money to sustain the system after Yavapai County decreased funding.
Faust said he hoped the city’s annual contribution will be reduced in the future as NAIPTA finds alternative grant funding to operate the transit system.
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