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Transit Authority OKs plan

January 20, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg, Pa. - The board of directors of the financially-strapped Chambersburg Transit Authority on Monday night accepted the recommendations of a recovery plan, including one that called for the board members tender their resignations.

Four of the five members present at the meeting indicated they probably would submit letters of resignation effective 60 days after the Monday, Jan. 26, meeting of the Chambersburg Borough Council.

That would give the municipalities participating in the bus system time to appoint new board members or re-appoint some or all of the current board.

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The exception was Bill Grove of Chambersburg, who was appointed to the board late last year.

"I don't feel like resigning. I just got on the board," said Grove, although he voted for the recovery plan. He said the plan recommends the board "should, not shall" resign.

President James Jenkins said the purpose of the resignations is "to show good faith. That we are interested in CTA's future."

The recovery plan, drafted by consultant William S. Parkin for submission to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, recommended the resignations to allow the formation of a new authority board.

Several of the five members present said the recommendation is not so much a reflection on the current board's performance as that of previous boards and management of the authority, which accumulated about $1 million in debts since 1998.

"This board has worked very well together," said Vice President Sam Kuhn of Chambersburg. "We've paid some bills ... We've kept the vehicles running."

Kuhn said he will offer his resignation "with reluctance. I feel I have a lot to offer this organization."

Most of the members have been on the board three years or less, Jenkins said.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," board member Wade Burkholder of Chambersburg said of the efforts to keep the system running, pay off its debts and restore service.

The nine-seat board at present has only six members. Richard Ebert, a member appointed by Washington Township, Pa., last year, submitted a letter of resignation to the board stating he could not longer serve for personal reasons.

The board also has no representatives from Waynesboro or Hamilton Township said Jenkins, who represents Greene Township.

The recovery plan also recommends that the operation of the system be subcontracted to a private contractor with experience in the bus business.

The plan calls for paying the system's debts over five years, beginning with the budget year that began July 1, 2003. For the current year, the plan calls for a budget of about $452,000, with $246,776 for operations and the balance to be used to reduce debt on federal and state subsidies, loans and outstanding bills.

Office Administrator Deb Rotz said the amount of federal subsidies to the system for this year has not been determined, but she listed more than $200,000 in various state subsidies the system is supposed to receive for 2003-04.

Jenkins said the system is working to pay off its oldest local debts first, by using donations rather than new subsidies. Rotz said all current taxes are up to date, but some back taxes are still outstanding.

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