MINUTES

 

NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

 Wednesday, November 19th, 2003   10:00 AM

 Ukiah Valley Conference Center, Chenin Blanc Room

200 S. School St. Ukiah, CA, Mendocino County  

 

A.                 CALL TO ORDER

Vice Chair Sears called the meeting to order at 10:00 am.

 

B.                 ROLL CALL

Roll was called with the following members present: Burton, Campbell, Ripple, Simonson, and Vice Chair Sears. Members absent: Hemphill and Woolley. Also present were Executive Director Mitch Stogner, Legal Counsel Christopher Neary, and Office Manager Dina Polkinghorne.

 

C.                 CONSENT CALENDAR

1.              Approval of Minutes - 09/17/2003 Regular Board Meeting

2.              Approval of Minutes – 10/15/2003 Regular Board Meeting

3.              Acceptance of Financial Reports

4.              Project Budget Approval

 

Director Campbell requested that item C.4 be removed for discussion.

 

ACTION: Upon motion by Director Burton, 2nd by Director Ripple, and carried (5-0) items C.1 through C.3 were accepted as presented.

 

C.4                Director Campbell asked that the word “final” be added to the item so that it reads “Final Project Budget Approval”.

 

ACTION: Upon motion by Dir. Campbell, 2nd by Dir. Ripple, and carried (5-0) item C.4 under consent was approved with the addition of the word “final” so that the items reads “Final Project Budget Approval”.

 

 

D.                AGENDA APPROVAL

Mr. Neary requested to add another item to the agenda under closed session. The item is in regards to Cal Western Vs NCRA.

 

ACTION: Upon motion by Dir. Burton, 2nd by Dir. Campbell, and carried (5-0) the board approved the Agenda with the addition of “Cal Western vs NCRA” under closed session.

 

E.            PUBLIC COMMENT

Hannah Burkhart Ms. Burkhart urged the board to get involved with the Cal Western bankruptcy proceedings. She also inquired as to whether or not the North Coast Railroad Historical Society (NCRHS), of which she is an officer, should make comments available to the judge overseeing the proceedings. Director Burton stated that he has attended these hearings and urged the NCRHS to make comments before the next meeting scheduled for November 24th, 2003. Mr. Neary stated that it may be best to submit any comments to the cities involved.

 

Chris Burkhart Mr. Burkhart stated his dissatisfaction with the NCRA in terms of their handling of the Cal Western line.

                                                                                                Director Hemphill arrived at 10:20 am

 

 

F.             NWPRA REPORT (Director Hemphill)

Director Hemphill reported that there have been two meetings regarding the NWPRA dissolution since the last NCRA board meeting. Under negotiation is the relief of the debt NCRA owes the NWPRA. He also stated that good progress has been made in these meetings.

 

G.             CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

1.            Executive Committee Duties  

Vice Chair Sears set this item aside until after Chair Woolley’s arrival. 

 

H.             COMMITTEE REPORTS

1.                  Finance Committee

No Report  

 

2.                  Property Committee  

Director Simonson reported that at the Property Committee meeting on November 18th in Ukiah, 

a representative from the City of Ukiah submitted a formal proposal to purchase an acre of railroad property for the purposes of a municipal park, specifically for a skatepark. He also reported that Mr. Tom Ashurst’s request to have his lease fee’s reduced were denied and that

Alpha labs request to lease railroad property was approved. 

 

Director Campbell reported that the committee directed the City of Ukiah to come up with a rough design for the property as a whole in terms of how they would develop the site.  

 

There was a general consensus of the board to put the matter under closed session at the next board meeting.

 

3.                  Passenger Committee Report

No Report

 

                                                                                                Chair Woolley arrived at 10:30 am

 

I.          STAFF REPORTS

1.                   Executive Director Mitch Stogner

 

A.) FEMA/OES Grant Status

 

Mr. Stogner reported that FEMA/OES released the Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for internal review and comment on October 15.  Those asked to comment were given a November 3 deadline.  NCRA met the deadline, submitting comments primarily designed to distinguish preliminary environmental activities undertaken by SMART from the environmental clearance sought by NCRA South of Willits. 

 

NCRA legal counsel has determined that the PEA is consistent with NCRA expectations and does not present any major issues of concern. FEMA will also seek SMART’s internal comments on the PEA, which will add at least 2 weeks to the internal review period. 

 

Accordingly, the PEA will not be released for the required 15-day public comment period until the week of November 24.

                                 

 

 

 

 

B) TCRP Update

 

Mr. Stogner summarized and updated the board with the status of the primary program that defines the NCRA’s financial relationship with the CTC.

 

The Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) was enacted in July 2000 and derives funding from the sales tax on gas and diesel and earmarks these funds for about 150 projects statewide.  The balance of the TCRP funding – which generates approximately $1.2 billion per year – is apportioned to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), the Public Transportation Account (PTA) and local streets and roads. 

 

Proposition 42 (TCRP) includes a provision that allows the Governor, in times of economic emergency, to request suspension of the program, which requires a 2/3 vote of the state legislature.  A partial suspension of the TCRP was enacted for fiscal year 03-04.About $300 million was approved for the program with the remaining $800 million retained by the State General Fund.  This $800 million must be repaid to the TCRP by 08-09.  The Governor and the legislature will revisit the issue of PROP. 42 (TCRP) suspensions when fiscal year 04-05 budget negotiations begin next year. 

 

The statute that created the TCRP (AB 2928) and Prop. 42, earmarked $60 million for the NCRA. and the CTC has allocated and the NCRA has spent $18,796,000 of that $60,000,000 

 

The balance available to the NCRA is $41,204,000 to be used as follows:

 

                                $31,000,000 – For long-term stabilization projects

                                $4,900,000 - For Willits to Lombard

                                $2,954,000 – For environmental remediation

                                $1,750,000 – For local match to ISTEA            

                                $600,000 – For Willits to Arcata

                                $41,204,000

 

These monies are available to the NCRA “subject to any direction the Commission deems appropriate.”

 

Mr. Stogner then reported that on October 2, he and Chairman Woolley met in Sacramento with staff from Caltrans and the CTC to discuss, among other things, the conditions NCRA must meet in order to access the remaining $42 million earmarked for the NCRA.  Caltrans Deputy Director Brian J. Smith sent a letter to Chairman Woolley summarizing the discussions from the October 2 meeting and reiterating the conditions in various CTC adopted Resolutions.  These conditions include:

 

Resolution TAA-02-03, May 9, 2002…

 

“with the possible exception of funding for environmental remediation projects, no additional TCRP shall be allocated to the NCRA until such time that the NCRA demonstrates to the Commission that the outstanding issues with their current common carrier rail operator have been resolved…”

 

Resolution TAA-02-03 December 12, 2001…

 

“no additional TCRP funds shall be allocated…..until such time as the NCRA demonstrates to the Commission how it will fund administrative operations beyond June 30, 2003.”

 

In an October 23 letter from Cheryl Willis, Deputy District Director, Planning the NCRA was advised that it must resolve outstanding audit issues and address CTC conditions prior to the release of ISTEA funds as well. Because of the need for NCRA to resolve the Caltrans/CTC conditions in order to access some $41.2 million in TCRP funding and $8.9 million in ISTEA funding already appropriated by the legislature and Congress respectively, Mr. Stogner recommended that a workshop be arranged between NCRA, Caltrans, CTC, and possibly the Sonoma County Auditor’s Office, to review each of the outstanding conditions.  The goal would be to remove the conditions that have already been addressed, and to gain greater specificity and understanding of what needs to be done to come into total compliance with the funding constraints applied by Caltrans/CTC.

 

Chair Woolley stated that the NCRA, CTC and Caltrans relationships need to be maintained and was in support of the workshop idea.

 

Theda Hawkinson of Caltrans District One office stated the importance of understanding that NCRA recognize that some of these issues are ten years old. She further stated that it would be beneficial for everyone to get the history and background of these issues, especially with the staff changes that have taken place recently. She suggested that with the recent cutbacks in the state budget, she was doubtful that she and her coworkers would be permitted to travel and suggested the meeting take place in Humboldt County.

 

Loretta Ellard of MCOG said they would be available to attend.

 

ACTION: Upon motion from Dir. Ripple, 2nd by Dir. Hemphill, and carried (7-0) the board directed staff to schedule a workshop with the appropriate parties. The objective would be to move towards the common goal of releasing the NCRA capital funding mandated by the State legislature and Congress

                               

2.                   Legal Counsel Chris Neary

Mr. Neary reported that the standard agreement with the on-call consultant has been finalized. The Project Manager is Jerry Cheek and the Prime Consultant role is HNTB.

 

G.            CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

           

1.                  Executive Committee Duties

There was a general consensus of the board to table the matter.           

 

Due to time constraints, Chair Woolley moved item J and item K towards the end of the agenda.

 

                                                       

L.               MATTERS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

            Director Campbell announced that he would not be seeking a second term.

 

Director Hemphill stated that he was invited to attend an Interregional Planning Meeting in Mendocino County but was unable to attend so Director Campbell attended in his place. Director Campbell reported that affordable housing was the focus of the meeting and he felt it was a good exchange of ideas. Director Hemphill further stated that the railroad is a key component to transportation and housing, looking at the issue with a regional approach. Director Burton stated that the City of Willits is doing the same thing,  addressing these issues as mandated by the state.

           

M.            ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

 Regular Board Meeting – December 17th, 2003 – 10:00 am

Healdsburg, City Council Chambers

 401 Grove Street

 Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA

 

                                                             Adjourned to closed session at 11:20 am

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

J.            CLOSED SESSION

 

1.            Executive Director Performance Review  

2.             Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

                 Pursuant to Government Code Section 54596.9 (six cases)

 

                                                                        Reconvened to open session at 2:45 pm

 

K.         ANNOUNCEMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION

            Mr. Neary announced that the board provided him direction and received information.

 

N.             ADJOURNMENT

            The meeting was adjourned at 2:47 pm