Knoxville — The board overseeing the Christian Opportunity Center in Pella voted in August to discontinue its contract with the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Authority (HIRTA), which provides public transportation. HIRTA is responsible for ensuring that public transportation is available in Marion County, not the Marion County Board of Supervisors, but the matter was discussed at length at this morning's regular supervisors' meeting.
Rod Braun with the COC said the decision was made, in part, because COC was losing $60,000 a year through the contract. Providing transportation is also not one of COC's core missions. Though COC will no longer be involved in the transportation service after Nov. 1, it has agreed to allow HIRTA to occupy space at its facility until June 30, 2013. Services received at COC, including transportation, should not be interrupted due to the change.
"We believe HIRTA could probably do it more efficiently," Braun said.
Of the 16 regional transportation agencies in Iowa, which operate through taxpayer-funded state and federal grants, only two contract with other agencies to provide transportation services. One of those is HIRTA. For much of Marion County, the service is provided through Red Rock Area Community Action Program (RRACAP). Marion County supports RRACAP at the level of $3,000 a month and a $10,000 operating grant annually. These funds are used to provide many services, not only those related to HIRTA.
"We do own the buses," Steve Wilson, HIRTA Vice Chair and Warren County Supervisor said. "We are liable." The state's goal is to have public transportation available in every Iowa county.
"You don't pay anything for those vehicles," Julia Castillo, Executive Director of HIRTA said. "It's HIRTA's bottom line responsibility. The County is not obligated to pay anything."
There is a misconception among the public regarding who can utilize HIRTA's services. It is a public transportation system that is open to everyone, not just seniors or the handicapped. HIRTA has hired a marketing employee whose job is to let people know HIRTA is available.
"People need to look at public transportation," Castillo said.
In other supervisors' discussion, Maintenance Supervisor Cal Stephens told the board that, following an inspection by an Iowa Workforce Development official, the courthouse elevator will not need the expensive repairs that have been discussed.
"He was impressed with our elevator," Stephens said of the inspector. "He thought it was in very good shape."
This discussion had centered around the age of the elevator (35 years) and that it is not compliant with today's Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The elevator may not be in compliance, but it is legal because it was installed before the ADA was adopted. ADA compliance issues are complaint-driven, and until issues arise, the County will not be forced to make improvements. Improvements are likely to be made at will by the County in the coming months. Stephens intends to work with the County's ADA Compliance Officer, Steve Edwards, to make these improvements.
Other supervisors' notes:
• Resident Lane WIlliams asked the board to do all it can to keep 150th Place open.
• Approved work beyond right of way agreements between the Secondary Road Department and Ann Marie Rouwenhorst and Donald R. Noftsger.
• There was a discussion regarding the role the supervisors play in approving job descriptions for county departments. The job descriptions are left to the elected official or department head in charge. The supervisors are welcome to review the job descriptions if they so choose. Board Chairman Sam Nichols believes job descriptions approved by the board should only be those positions who answer directly to the board.
• Approved a change in the Secondary Road Department's payroll policy. Iowa Code requires the supervisors to approve these. Auditor Jake Grandia told the board that outside auditors insist upon this.
• The next regular supervisors' meeting will be Monday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 a.m.