Board members needed to conduct business till end
A recent exodus by Trumbull Transit Board members in the months leading up to the board’s expected dissolution is making it difficult to conduct the business needed to wind down operations there.
Trumbull commissioners moved earlier this year to begin dissolving the transit board. This process takes about six months, so the board is expected to be disbanded in August.
Under state guidelines, the transit board must be dissolved before Trumbull County can become an official part of the Western Reserve Transit Authority public transportation system. Rules preclude the existence of more than one transit authority or board in any given transit system. Though commissioners, the WRTA board, the Mahoning County commissioners and Youngstown City Council have yet to vote on resolutions to allow Trumbull County to join WRTA, proposed resolutions now are being reviewed by attorneys.
We agree with the decision by commissioners to dismantle the board. In fact, we have been calling for this action for more than a year now — well before steps were initiated to join WRTA. We had called for commissioners to fold the board and turn oversight of local public transportation issues over to Trumbull County transportation administrator Michael Salamone. Frankly, with or without WRTA’s involvement, we believe the Trumbull Transit Board is unnecessary going forward.
For now, however, the board still exists and action to close out the books and end the board’s operations is needed. The most important items of business involve handling state grant funds already allocated by writing and executing a split agreement with WRTA to transfer the county’s transit funds now under the control of the transit board to WRTA to be used on transit-related projects in Trumbull County.
This type of formal business cannot be conducted with less than a quorum of four board members.
In recent months, however, two transit board members, Linda Kirkland and Duane Hennen, have resigned. And before that, board members John Fowler II and Robert Faulkner saw their terms expire. Commissioners never appointed replacements to those two seats.
The loss of these four members leaves the seven-member board with just three members, rendering the board impotent.
Now, we are pleased to see that Mark Hess, who has served in various capacities with Trumbull Transit and is extremely knowledgeable on its issues, is agreeable to taking over a vacant board seat, at least for the next few months.
When asked about his interest in helping to serve out the board’s final months, Hess said he would “follow the wishes of the commissioners and see that the board is resolved properly.”
Now, we urge the remaining Trumbull County Transit Board members who might be considering stepping down before the end of the board’s existence to reconsider. That’s because the involvement of all remaining members is critical as the future of this board winds down to an end.