I try to give you a digest of meetings of the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). Debbie Messina goes for a single sexy story for the newspaper, and I don't see one out of today's meeting.
Let's start with the financials. HRT is nearly $2 million under Budget after three quarters of the fiscal year. They received the 5/12ths apportionment they applied for from the Federal government, and used some of that money to payoff their Line of Credit.
You all want the light rail news. The safety system testing should be completed by the end of May. President Phillip Shucet hopes to be able to give the TDCHR a firmer hold on a revenue service launch date at the May TDCHR meeting.
The new Southside maintenance facility will be completed on time and on budget. Operations should be back there from the Ford plant in later May, with a formal opening ceremony in June.
Operating Budget Officer Brandon Singleton presented the proposed FY 2012 Budget. Ongoing negotiations with the contractor may bring paratransit costs down. The big issue is fuel costs. With the current price spike driven by speculators, it's hoped to be able to lock in at a lower price once they go to cash in their profits. HRT's current fuel contracts will take the agency through the end of the Summer.
The TDCHR approved seven contracts today: one for an overhaul on a paddlewheel ferry, two for construction management services, two for software and support, one for the Ballentine Boulevard park and ride, and one for the Newtown Station employees restroom.
New Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Henry Li was introduced to the TDCHR. He arrived just two weeks ago from his previous job in Georgia. What struck some of us before the meeting is that Li had been studying the photos of Commissioners on HRT's website, so that he could try to recognize them when meeting them for the first time. (That's the kind of detail junkie you want watching the money!)
Phillip Shucet presented two awards to employees:
1. Brian Smith got the President's Coin for being the driving force behind getting Project 31/90 done. Project 31/90 was the effort to implement reforms at HRT after the Inspector General's report.
2. David Sullivan was given a plaque for his service as interim CFO.
The next TDCHR meeting will be May 26 at 1:30 P.M. in Norfolk.