NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING MINUTES

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2000

531 K STREET, EUREKA CITY HALL, EUREKA, CALIFORNIA

 

 

A.                 CALL TO ORDER

Chair Jehn called the meeting to order at 10:03 a.m.

 

B.                 ROLL CALL

Directors present:  Chair Robert Jehn, David Ripple, Allan Hemphill, Robert Simonson, Daniel Opalach, Jack McKellar, and Max Schlienger.  Also present:  Executive Director Max H. Bridges, General Counsel Christopher J. Neary, Property Manager Cyndee Logan, Consulting Accountant Russ Mustola, and Administrative Assistant Pamela Fishtrom.

 

C.                 MINUTES

1.                  Approval of Minutes of the January 8, 2000 Special Board Meeting

2.                  Approval of Minutes of the January 19, 2000 Regular Board Meeting

Motion to approve both sets of Minutes by Dir. Hemphill; seconded by Dir. Ripple.  Vote taken;  motion carried.

 

D.        AGENDA APPROVAL

Legal Counsel Neary reported Agenda Item G.4 – Consideration of Contract with Williams Communications – needs to be moved to after the Closed Session.  Chair Jehn approved the Agenda with Mr. Neary’s correction.

 

E.           PUBLIC COMMENTS

Kay Strickland of Eureka, Citizens for Port Development, recommended the Board consider being placed on the agenda for the Humboldt County Supervisor’s meeting every three months when NCRA meets in this county.  In addition, the petition drive is developing more slowly than last summer’s drive.  Further, she discussed an article from the Willits paper which she gave to Dir. McKellar that reports a $400,000 planning study is to be performed.

 

F.           CONSENT AGENDA

1.         Ratification of Contract with NetNation Communications, Inc. for Web Hosting Services

2.         Endorse Development of Long Range Plan

3.                  Transfer of Inventory to NorCare

Rex Bohn, L & M Renner, inquired as to the nature of the inventory being considered for transfer.  His company is owed money by NCRA.  His concern is that NCRA is transferring assets that could later be sold to pay creditors.  Mr. Bridges explained the majority of the inventory that is under consideration has already been installed.  In addition, the inventory would never leave the roadbed even after transfer.    Motion by Dir. Schlienger to approve the Consent Agenda; seconded by Dir. McKellar.  Vote taken;  motion passes unanimously.

 

 

 

 

G.          CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.                  Proposal for CalPERS Participation

Mr. Bridges recommended the Board authorize the Executive Director to proceed with providing for participation in CalPERS consistent with the Executive Director’s employment contract and include payment by the Board of the employer portion for the Administrative Assistant.  Motion by Dir. Ripple; seconded by Dir. Simonson.  Vote taken; motion carried unanimously.

2.                  Consideration regarding Property Management Services

Mr. Bridges reported the current 36-month contract with Cyndee Logan, Lake Management, expires April 8, 2000.  He discussed NCRA’s possible options and requested policy direction.  Ms. Logan indicated she would like a year extension with amendments to her contract.  Ms. Rockefeller urged the Board to renew Ms. Logan’s contract.  Motion by Dir. Hemphill for staff to negotiate a new contract with a one year extension which addresses:  major real estate land deals beyond the scope described in the current contract; comparable rates of commission for property managers of public agencies; and firm up current negotiation commitments and the commissions relating to them.  Seconded by Dir. McKellar.  Vote taken;  motion carries unanimously.

3.                  Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2000-01

Mr. Bridges prepared the proposed budget as a tool to request funds at the State level for administrative functions of NCRA beyond that allocated by AB2782.  Dir. Hemphill recommended increasing the budget to include money to satisfy creditor debt.  Mr. Darling described the need for funds for environmental remediation in response to a proposed shifting of funds from that category.

Motion by Dir. Hemphill to adopt the proposed budget with addition of $1,000,000 for creditor relief and $20,000 to fund the local match for development of the Long Range Plan approved under Item F.2.  Seconded by Dir. Simonson.  Roll call vote taken;  motion carries unanimously.

 

H.          LIAISON REPORTS

1.                  NWPRA – Max H. Bridges

Mr. Bridges reported NWPRA received a report from SMART regarding passenger service.  In addition, NWPRA forgave the NCRA rent payment for five years and while NCRA expends ISTEA funds within the boundaries of their portion of the track.  NWPRA announced failed negotiations for a fiber optic lease within their right of way.  Further, the development of station sites was discussed.       

2.         Legislation – Max H. Bridges

            Chair Jehn reported AB 1093, sponsored by Assembly Member Strom-Martin to       provide monies to 28 California short line Railroads, has passed the Assembly and is in the Senate; however, it is competitive and will be managed by CalTrans. 

            In addition, he reported that a bill has been presented that would allow local jurisdictions to pass transportation sales taxes by a majority, instead of two-thirds, of voters.     

3.         Passenger – Robert Jehn

Chair Jehn reported that, although the committee has not met, a proposal was distributed by Anderson Adams of Redwood Business Systems to operate a passenger excursion around Humboldt Bay.

4.         Cities – Jack McKellar

Dir. McKellar reported an article from Willits discloses Mendocino Council of Governments will perform a $400,000 feasibility study of NCRA; $320,000 will be funded by State Transportation Grant Funds and the rest will, hopefully, be shared by council of governments of four NCRA counties; Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt.  He referenced Pacific Maritime magazine in reporting that East Coast ports receive government money to improve facilities;  however, the Humboldt Bay port suffers because other West Coast ports do not want this area to compete for business.    

5.         Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Commission (SMART) – Robert Jehn

Chair Jehn reported CalTrans has a document available for public review that proposes grade changes in Mill Valley near San Rafael which may seriously affect the railroad right of way.  In addition, SMART seeks funding sources through the planning stage; however, the commission is postponing decisions until it learns of the disposition of Measures B and C.

6.                  Contractor – Rail-Ways, Inc.

John Darling, President of Rail-Ways, Inc., provided the Board with a written report.  He reported that he and Mr. Bridges met with NWPRA to discuss development of the station sites used as duty points and stressed the importance that the function of the facilities remain the same.  The track has sustained some damage due to the latest storm, but will be restored to service again shortly.  The track from Lombard to near Penngrove is ready for FRA inspection.  The Petaluma bridge was hit again; a tug operator has given $1,000 to install a camera with which to view the bridge so as to clear his boat’s involvement.  A survey of the economic impact from loss of the bridge showed a loss to shippers of $8,000,000 per year.  It was forwarded to the Coast Guard to justify a $53,000,000 investment.  George Scott worked on the rest of the bridges and all are ready for FRA inspection.  The highway signals are ready for inspection; NorCare has obtained two signal trucks.  An additional $12,000 is needed to equip the trucks to resume a continuing maintenance requirement.  In January, Mr. Poulsen, NorCare, and Mr. Bridges met with the FRA Regional Administrator in Sacramento to discuss protocols for track and signal inspection.  The outcome was a tentative track inspection by the FRA for the end of February.  Service will resume a week after a successful inspection; however, NorCare is unable to fund the parts, materials, and equipment for the signal forces.  Therefore, resumption of service is suspended indefinitely.  On the North End there are several slipouts.  Some portions have yet to be patroled due to closures.  The North End work is delayed due to the National Marine Fisheries Services need to complete a biological opinion which may take four to six weeks,  the Army Corp of Engineers’ need to complete preliminary drawings and to prepare permits, and completion of FEMA’s Environmental Assessment in terms of incorporating possible changes based on the public’s response.  Funding will only be available after a finding of no significant impact estimated to be complete in April.  Mr. Bridges received a package on reporting requirements for environmental issues.  The Railroad passed an annual inspection by the Mendocino County Environmental Health Board.  Fish passage issues need to be addressed;  funds may be available from Humboldt County Resources Conservation District.  Mr. Darling assured the Board that his firm is not pulling out; however, his staff will be seeking other contracts until funding becomes available.

 

I.          COMMITTEE REPORTS

1.                  Finance – Robert Jehn, Daniel Opalach, Robert Simonson

a.                  Status of AB2782 funds – Russ Mustola, Consulting Accountant

Mr. Mustola offered to answer questions.  He reported that his reports indicate that NCRA does not withhold funds earmarked for subcontractors; in fact, NCRA needs to recoup their money based on advances given to subcontractors in order to receive reimbursements through FEMA and Prop. 116 programs.  The fuel tax refund has not been received.

 

 

b.                  Status of the Single-Year Audits from 1995-1996 – General Counsel Neary

Mr. Mustola reported that Warren Staley has not responded to NCRA’s request to re-issue the single-year audits of 1995 and 1996.  He was provided with a fully drafted set of financials, with supporting work papers from Mr. Mustola and Aycock and Edgmon, CPAs, in August of 1999.  The field work for the single-year audits for 1997 and 1998 has been completed by Aycock and Edgmon; however, they cannot complete their work without Mr. Staley’s response and a letter from Mr. Neary which discusses various contingencies related to financial issues.   

2.                  Organizational – Robert Jehn, David Ripple

Chair Jehn reported the committee has not met; however, a meeting will occur in March and a draft of revised Bylaws will be reviewed.

           

J.         STAFF REPORTS

1.         Executive Director  – Max H. Bridges

No report.

            2.         Property Manager – Cyndee Logan

No report.

 

K.        LEGAL REPORT – General Counsel Christopher J. Neary

General Counsel Neary reported receiving a written response to inquiries by two of three agencies involved in the consent decree;  the Regional Water Quality Board and Department of Toxic Substances.  He and Mr. Bridges will attend a meeting with all three agencies on March 15, 2000 in Santa Rosa.  In addition, he and Mr. Bridges will attend a meeting with UP the third week in March.

 

L.         MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

Dir. Opalach reported the North Coast Leadership Roundtable met with Zuretti Goosby of Senator Wes Chesbro’s office to discuss ways to help the Railroad.  One suggestion included asking Senator Chesbro and Assembly Member Strom-Martin to convene a meeting with representatives of the appropriate Federal and State agencies and other interested parties to discuss resolving short and long term funding issues.

 

Dir. Hemphill indicated that NCRA should continue meetings; however, the message should be that action is necessary to resolve funding issues by relying upon the 5-Year Business Plan.

 

Chair Jehn responded that NCRA, with assistance from Rail-Ways, has made headway involving our elected officials.

 

Dir. McKellar indicated that the shippers are ready and, although the NWP is close to re-opening, the government seems to stand in the way.

 

Dir. Simonson commented the scarcity of media people at Board meetings indicates that the public is unaware of the issues surrounding the Railroad.  He indicated that local people and governments are supportive and, if educated on Railroad issues, constituents  throughout the counties involved will capture political support.

 

Chair Jehn announced NCRA’s new website at northcoastrailroad.org; the site will be used to present accurate and timely information.  Additionally, he and Mr. Bridges met with Sonoma County’s Supervisor Mike Reilly; Theresa McMillan, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; and Susan Wilford, Executive Director of Sonoma County Transportation Authority, to amend the Regional Transportation Plan to include funding for the NCRA.  Sonoma County previously placed ballot measures before voters to raise funds through sales tax for rail-related improvements.  Further, Sonoma County is exploring use of State Transportation Improvement Program funds for use on rail-related projects.       

 

M.       ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

 Regular meeting to be held on March 15, 2000 at 10:00 a.m.

 Healdsburg City Council Chambers, 401 Grove Street, Healdsburg, Sonoma County.

 

N.        CLOSED SESSION – Convened at 12:10 p.m.

1.         Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9 (Pacific Rail Services)

2.         Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Government Code Section 54956.9 (L & M Renner)

3.         Conference with Real Property Negotiator

Government Code Section 54956.8

Negotiating Parties:  Pacific Bell, etc.; NCRA

Under Negotiation:  Longitudinal Easement

4.         Conference with Real Property Negotiator

Government Code Section 54956.8

Negotiating Parties:  Williams Communications; NCRA

Under Negotiation:  Longitudinal Easement

 

O.        ANNOUNCEMENT OF ACTION TAKEN IN CLOSED SESSION –

Reconvened at 1:18 p.m.

1.                  Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

Chair Jehn announced the Board was provided information by General Counsel  regarding Pacific Rail Services.

2.                  Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation

Chair Jehn announced General Counsel Neary provided legal updates regarding Green Right O’Way Construction and Van Meter Logging.

3.                  Conference with Legal Counsel – Consider Initiating Litigation

Chair Jehn announced direction was provided to General Counsel Neary in consideration of initiating litigation.

4.                  Conference with Real Property Negotiator

a.            Pacific Bell

Chair Jehn announced the Board received information relative to further negotiations from Property Manager Logan.

b.            Williams Communication

Chair Jehn announced the Board approved an agreement to lay fiber optic        

cable along the right of way; however, funds realized would be initially sequestered due to a potential claim by UP. 

 

O.        ADJOURNMENT

Chair Jehn adjourned the meeting at 1:21 p.m.