KINGSTON – After two Luzerne County Transportation Authority board members touted a sizable year-end surplus and senior citizen bus riders, the board on Tuesday voted to develop a code of conduct for themselves.
Early in the meeting, the board approved the monthly financial report, which included a prior year analysis for fiscal year 2011-12. One thing the analysis showed was a $7,116,901 surplus as of June 30, 2012, and compared it to a 2010-11 year-end surplus of $5,375,536. That's a 34.4-percent increase.
The authority is $7 million-plus in the black. So, financially, we're very stable. I would just like to acknowledge that, board member Sal Licata said.
It shows we know how to handle operations very, very well, Chairman Paul Maher added.
In his report, Executive Director Stanley Strelish presented ridership numbers for October, which showed a 9 percent increase in total ridership from September, and an 11 percent increase in senior citizen ridership.
Licata noted senior ridership, saying it's back on its way up.
However, comparing the average number of senior riders per day in September to October's numbers and considering there were only 24 days of service in September compared to 25.5 in October (including a day and a half lost because of Hurricane Sandy), average daily senior ridership grew only 4.8 percent. And last month's senior ridership was still 40 percent lower than in October 2011.
The authority suffered a black eye in recent months after board member Patrick Conway alleged that bus drivers were padding ridership numbers at Strelish's direction to increase state funding – an allegation Strelish denies. Since then, senior ridership numbers plummeted and the state launched an investigation.
Strelish said on Tuesday that the state continues to investigate Conway's claims but has requested no new data.
Under new business, board member Bob Chepalonis motioned that the board develop a code of conduct for 2013 that holds us to a standard of what a board member should be. The motion passed unanimously.
Several board members had criticized Conway at past meetings for going to the media with concerns and allegations instead of discussing it with them first.
We need to go by a certain code on how to deal with issues. You can't have one board member doing one thing, one board member doing another. There's a code that you need to follow. Other boards have them, we don't. We have some board members that went through board training and some that didn't. In that board training, it tells you how you're supposed to act as a member of this board, Chepalonis said.
He said Conway has not completed mandatory state training for transit board members, although he was appointed to the board more than a year ago.
Conway did not attend Tuesday's meeting.
The Luzerne County Transportation Authority meets next on Jan. 15, for a reorganization meeting at 3 p.m., a work session at 3:30 p.m. and a regular meeting at 4 p.m. at the LCTA offices, 315 Northampton St., Kingston.