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"There has not been an identified negotiator from either company," she said.
Smothers also said that, in addition to all of those issues to address, PART will also be transitioning to new leadership with McKinney's departure. She added that McKinney will still be available for consultation after November.
The board's attorney, Tom Terrell of Smith Moore Leatherwood, said he is attempting to talk to the correct party, but he added that TMS had not confirmed a designated negotiator yet.
According to Smothers' memo, TMS is requesting a five-year contract with PART, but that memo goes on to state that such a long-term contract would require approval from the Federal Transit Administration and the NC Department of Transportation – and, in addition, PART has no desire to enter into an agreement that long.
Right now the board is waiting on an expected two-week or 30-day notice from Coach America/TMS announcing the end of bus service.
Smothers' memo also lists "Possible Pending Actions," and states that one upcoming possible action may be "notification to participating county governments of the continued revenue and operations problems and possible cessation of services by PART Express."
In other words, PART might request bailout money from its 10 member counties. PART has asked for additional money before but only Guilford County
has stepped up in a major way.
At the Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 Guilford County
Board of Commissioners meeting, McKinney asked Guilford County
for $394,000 to help PART make it through the fiscal year that began only three months earlier in July 2011. The commissioners voted to give PART the money – something the other counties didn't do. One reason Guilford County
was probably so accommodating is that, at the time, the county was entering into an agreement with PART for PART to take over the contract for Guilford County
's own troubled transportation services after a private provider, MV Transportation, pulled out.
At a June 21 Board of Commissioners meeting, McKinney asked the Guilford County
Commissioners for another $120,000 to cover a projected PART budget shortfall that he said PART had experienced due to taking over Guilford County
's transportation services eight months earlier. At that time, McKinney told the commissioners PART had underestimated the cost of providing Guilford County
with the transportation service.
Despite that infusion of over half a million in additional dollars from Guilford County
in the past 10 months, PART is still having trouble making ends meet.
Smothers said after the August 30 meeting that, while Guilford County
had been good about providing financial support to PART, other counties in the group hadn't been so supportive with their dollars.