I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Getting ECAT on Track Part I
At the BCC Meeting last night, the most discussed topic occurred at the end of the meeting. ECAT and in particular the ECCT portion (para-transit). Last week, we voted to direct staff to send a letter to Tallahassee giving the state 30-day notice of our intention to give this function back to the state to manage. Fast forward a week and a half, and suddenly we are told the savings we would realize by sending this back to the state add up to less than $40K yearly--we're still on the hook for much of the service responsibility. So at the meeting the important decision was made to rescind our letter from last Tuesday's special meeting. Of critical importance to our ability to do this was the assurance from the on-site representative from First Transit who explicitly stated her company would extend service through 30 September and under the terms of the existing agreement, for the para-transit service in Escambia County.
Where things stand now...
So now we have First Transit as our Fixed-Route and Para-Transit provider through the end of September, just a hair over 3 1/2 months. The Board's direction was to re-solicit the para-transit portion of the contract, while simultaneously beginning the process of bargaining with the ECAT union to see if a workable Collective Bargaining Agreement could be forged in order to bring ECAT drivers in-house. I suggested that very soon the Board and staff hold an executive/shade meeting for the purposes of bargaining--this way we all are on record with what sort of language a new CBA
would have to contain in order to win our approval. This idea appeared to go over well with my colleagues. Full Disclosure: I cannot nor will I vote to bring ECAT employees in-house under the current terms of their current agreement with First Transit. Lots will have to change in order to win my support.
The 50,000 foot view....
Toward the end of the meeting, after we had voted to rescind the letter to the state and after we had received assurances from First Transit that they would operate para-transit through September, I asked each Commissioner to give a brief synopsis of his "philosophy" regarding mass transit. Each commissioner desires greater efficiency for the money spent, and each of the four of us expressed support for mass transit in general. For my part I stated emphatically that if Mass Transit goes away in Escambia--I only would consider that if simultaneously the $.04 cent per gallon gas tax is eliminated as well. We will see how things go over the next few weeks...