CATS won’t stray from home base

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Commissioners approved a measure Monday that will save taxpayers nearly $40,000 a year and ensure that the county’s transit program remains based in Covington County.

For months, the fate of the Covington Area Transit System (CATS), the county’s public transportation system, has been undecided following the impending retirement of longtime director Ruth Edson in April. One suggested option was to merge CATS with the Wiregrass Area Transit System; however, Monday, commissioners approved a resolution to allow the assistant county administrator, Pam Steele, to absorb Edson’s administrative and clerical duties.

Effective April 1, Steele will serve as the interim CATS coordinator. There will be no changes to scheduling or dispatching.

“By not hiring a new director, it’s a cost saving measure of $40,000,” said Commissioner David Ellis. “There’s no way to replace (Edson), and the job that she’s done for the county. She’s a great asset. By doing this now, we can have (Edson) train (Steele) during her last few weeks on the job.”

The resolution outlines that Steele’s responsibilities will also include all state transportation department reporting, audit compliance and other clerical/administrative duties, while the dispatcher will continue to schedule routes for CATS drivers and maintain maintenance records and any other duties necessary. Current CATS drivers will continue to serve the same job functions as before, but may be called upon to dispatch if the situation arises. County administrator Brenda Petty will be responsible for any personnel matters related to CATS employees.

“By handling this in house, the transition should be seamless – not that we won’t miss (Edson) come April,” Petty said.

Commissioners also agreed to enter into a joint use agreement with the City of Andalusia for the soon-to-be constructed Miracle Field. The county pledged a $50,000 contribution, payable in five annual payments of $10,000.

In other business, the commission voted:

• to renew a contract with Southern Health Partners for inmate medical services.

• to adopt the Alabama Beverage Control Board’s license fee schedule for FY 2013 with no changes.

• to reappoint Wayne Bush and Ed Stacey to the county recreation board.