Court addresses transit system funding, pay plan

(ROCKWALL, TX – July 27, 2016) Rockwall County Commissioners Court agreed on a change in funding for STAR Transit and approved a conceptual proposal for a new county pay plan at their July 26 meeting.

STAR Transit is the regional public transportation system for all of Rockwall County. After losing state funding when the county went from rural to urban classification, STAR Transit asked for more money to subsidize the service. STAR currently operates five buses for eight hours a day, seven days a week. The cities of Rockwall, Fate and Royse City also contribute funding for the service. Rockwall residents are considered the largest group in all county cities to use the service.

County officials, according to County Judge David Sweet, have met several times with City of Rockwall officials to reach an agreement on what each should pay.

Rockwall County, which was paying $63,400 annually, will now pay $55,200 – the same amount as the city of Rockwall has agreed to pay. That, said Judge Sweet, was an amount “Commissioners Court could live with.”  Fate and Royse City do not currently participate in the program, but will be asked to pay $13,800 each.  Judge Sweet said Heath and McClendon-Chisholm don’t often use the service.

The drop in funding will result in a reduced level of service from STAR. Beginning January 2017, STAR will provide three buses for nine hours a day.

STAR officials originally ask for $204,000, but under the new agreement will receive $138,000.

Commissioner Dennis Bailey requested information on ridership in 2017 to plan for the 2018 budget year. Commissioner Magness noted that officials would learn from those that STAR serves in 2017 regarding the service provided.

A new pay plan developed by the county Benefits Committee for the fiscal 2017 fiscal was approved by the court “conceptually.” The Performance Pay Plan, a plan that includes salary increases based on merit, will not be voted on for adoption until commissioners know it will work financially. The plan will not include appointed and elected officials.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, the county will operate an in-house janitorial service instead of renewing a contract for the job. Commissioner Lee Gilbert noted the change would cost an additional $50,000 and questioned if the county could “get the services we’re missing now?” It was decided that with an in-house service, all work needed could be completed and janitors would be available for quick cleanups during business hours.

Commissioners also adopted a relocation plan for county offices and storage space designed for the former Whitmore building. Judge Sweet commented that county officials will be discussing space plans “for many more years.” The in-house project should be completed in September. It will be paid for with money from the county’s contingency fund.

Submitted press release. 

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