NORTH COAST RAILROAD AUTHORITY (NCRA)

BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING

 

 Monday, March 15, 2004   10:00 AM 

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

 

MINUTES

 

A.                 CALL TO ORDER

Chair Woolley called the meeting to order at 10:04 am.

 

B.                 ROLL CALL

Directors Present: Chair John Woolley, Doug Ellinger, Allan Hemphill, David Ripple, Robert Simonson and Bruce Burton. Directors Absent: Leo Sears

 

Also Present: Executive Director Mitch Stogner, General Counsel Chris Neary and Recording Secretary Dina Polkinghorne.

 

C.             AGENDA APPROVAL  

 

ACTION: The board approved the agenda as presented.

 

D.        CONSENT CALENDAR

 

            ACTION: Upon motion by Director Ripple, 2nd by Director Ellinger, and carried (6-0),

            the Consent Calendar as presented.

 

E.        PUBLIC COMMENT

David Schonbrunn, Pres, TRANSDEF

Mr. Schonbrunn stated that TRANSDEF is an organization fighting for better transit in the Bay Area. He is a long time supporter of the NCRA and was pleased to see a mutual agreement was reached to bring about the dissolution of the NWPRA. He stated his disappointment that NCRA did not take the invitation to have representation on the SMART Board. He believes a close coordination between the parties is essential. He urged the board to reconsider this decision.

 

John Diamante

Mr. Diamante announced that two longtime railroad supporters recently passed away - Hans Burkhart and Ed Nervo. He then observed a moment of silence in their honor.

 

He further stated that he thinks these two people would have wanted rail service restored for ecological and economical reasons.

 

Fred Carmichael    

Mr. Stogner read a letter from Fred Carmichael on behalf of the NWP Support Coalition. The letter recommended using prison labor to do the work necessary to rehabilitate the line.

 

F.         SPECIAL PRESENTATION

1.            Petaluma Industry Track Project

 

Mr. Tom Hargis and Bill Silva from the City of Petaluma made a presentation to the board in regards to the Petaluma Industry Track Project. John Darling of the NWPY stated that he reviewed the project and in a letter to the NCRA stated that if certain technical issues were addressed, as the Operator he would approve the project.

 

Director Ellinger asked that the word “abandon” be replaced with” remove” in regards to the bridge outlined in the plans.  Mr. Hargis concurred.  Mr. Hargis also stated that they are under some strict deadlines and need the NCRA’s approval fairly soon in order to get certain federal funding obligated to the project. He asked that the item be placed on next month’s NCRA agenda.

 

Mr. Schonbrunn of TRANSDEF urged the board to not burden itself with a problem of the City of Petaluma and that under CEQA an Alternate Study should be done. He stated that he testified before the SMART Board in regards to this matter stating that this is not a desirable alternative for the railroad. It will make operating freight trains much more costly and much less efficient.

 

Director Hemphill asked Mr. Darling if this project is a net gain or loss as the Operator. Mr. Darling stated that it is a net loss but there may not be an acceptable alternative at this time.

 

Director Woolley, with the board’s consent, directed staff to look into the proposal and bring the matter back at next month’s meeting.

 

G.        CONDUCT OF BUSINESS

 

 1.            Acceptance of Single Year Audit FY 02-03

                   Aycock and Edgmon  

           

Stacey Edgmon of Aycock and Edgmon presented the board with the Single Year Audit of the NCRA  for the fiscal year of 2002-2003. Each page, and financial entries were reviewed and explained. She thanked the NCRA staff and the staff of the Sonoma County Auditors office and stated that this was the first year that the NCRA staff was able to make an accurate receivables list.

 

Directors Hemphill and Woolley both commended staff on a clean audit.

 

ACTION: Upon motion by Director Simonson, 2nd by Director Ellinger, and carried (6-0), the Single Year Audit 02-03 was accepted.

 

There was discussion regarding the NCRA’s “High Risk” status. Mr. Neary stated that there are no empirical standards for this designation but the status appears to be based on three issues: high debt, no single year audits, and the absence of a credible accounting system. By contracting with Sonoma County the third issue is resolved. The second issue – no single year audits – has been resolved for several years. He offered to initiate a petition to Caltrans to get the designation removed, as many of the issues that caused the designation initially have been resolved.

 

Stacey Edgmon directed the board to page 27, item 9 of the audit she presented where it states the difference between an auditors “high risk” auditee status versus the CTC “high-risk” designation.

 

Director Hemphill stated that NCRA’s “high risk” designation comes up repeatedly with the CTC and Caltrans District 1 and it would be in NCRA’s interest to have it removed.

 

H.            COMMITTEE REPORTS

           

1.)    Operator Committee

Director Ripple reported that the Operator Committee met earlier today. They received information and continue to look for ways to get the railroad going again.

 

2.)    Finance Committee

Director Simonson reported that the Finance Committee met and reviewed the Single Year Audit report (FY 02-03) from Stacey Edgmon.

 

            3.)  Property Committee

                  No report

  

 

I.          STAFF REPORTS

 

1.)            Executive Director

 

1.a                FEMA Alternate Project

 

Mitch Stogner reported that FEMA released the Administrative Final for internal review on March 5th and gave NCRA, OES, and others until March 12th to suggest changes to the Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment. NCRA had no changes, OES had two technical changes, and FEMA attorneys were finalizing the document. He also reported that FEMA should be issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which will grant programmatic environmental clearance for the project,  this week.

 

1.b                Consent Decree Update

 

Mr. Stogner reported that the Waste and Debris Clean-Up project will soon be going out to bid. There will be a pre-bid award mandatory meeting on April 13th in Willits. The bids are due on April 27th and he will be meeting with the compliance monitors approximately two weeks prior to that to go over the plans and specifications.

 

2.)            General Counsel

 

Chris Neary reported that at the last board meeting the Standstill Agreement with Railways, Inc was extended until June 30, 2004.     

 

                                                                                                The board adjourned into closed session at 11:10 am

                                                                                     

J.              CLOSED SESSION

 

             1.                Potential Litigation – 1 case

                        Pursuant to Government Code Section 54596.9

 

 

The board reconvened into open session at noon

 

K.              ANNOUNCEMENT OUT OF CLOSED SESSION 

The board received information and gave direction to counsel.

                                                                               

L.            MATTERS FROM THE BOARD

None

 

M.            ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING

Director Woolley announced that the next Regular Board Meeting will be on

April 21st, 2004 at 10: 00 am.

Ukiah City Council Chambers

300 Seminary Avenue,

 

N.       ADJOURNMENT

              The board adjourned at 12:03 PM