Warren County will participate in Phase Two of a PennDOT regional transportation study, the Warren County Commissioners decided at their meeting Wednesday morning.
The study, requested by Gov. Tom Corbett's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission in 2011 and started last August, comes at no cost to the county, Commissioner John Eggleston said.
The regionalization study also includes Clarion, Crawford, Forest and Venango counties.
The study examined the "potential cost savings from regionalizing public transportation service in northwest Pennsylvania, focusing on management and related administrative costs" and explored "options for a governance and organizational structure for a new regional transit entity," according to an overview of Phase One.
"It basically outlined some savings by consolidating, because instead of having five administrators you'd have one, and instead of having five fiscal departments you'd have one," Eggleston said. "Total savings were somewhat less than we had hoped for. They're saying they think they can save in these five counties about $250,000 a year. Which doesn't seem like that much, of course if you take that over ten years its two and half million dollars, and that is a considerable amount of money."
Eggleston and Commissioners Chairman Stephen Vanco voted to have the county participate in Phase Two of the study; Commissioner John Bortz was not at the meeting.
Transportation Authority of Warren County Director John Aldrich said he's against the plan and told the commissioners that he sees "minimal value" in the study and, "We question some of the methodology used" in the data collection.
Between $550,000 and $600,000 or 45 percent of TAWC's budget is from PennDOT funding, he said.
Aldrich added the projected savings may be less than reported and he's not sure the study "factored in all the personnel, staffing that may actually be needed to run the regional system."
"Does it cost the county anything to participate?" Vanco asked.
"No," Aldrich replied.
The decision to participate in the regionalization plan after the completion of Phase Two would ultimately be up to the county commissioners from the five counties, Eggleston said.
"Because of the quality of our facility I feel there's an opportunity for us to get some additional jobs for Warren County," Eggleston said. "We've got a state of the art facility, so the potential for maybe taking care of the buses from other counties might lead us to being able to hire an additional mechanic...I think there's the potential for Warren County to get an additional job or two. It may be a wash, we may lose a fiscal job and get a mechanic job, I don't know."
The commissioners also approved an agreement for $8,000 with Election IQ from Ohio for election support. Election IQ will be paid $5,000 for work on the primary election and $3,000 on the general election that includes fixing and programming the electronic machines and developing the ballots.
The contract calls for Election IQ employees who travel to Warren County for the primary and general elections to be paid $1,000 a day.
"Good god," Eggleston said. "That seems kind of high to me."
The contract fee with Election IQ is still less than the county used to pay to print ballots, Eggleston said.
"They send a person here who sits down in our office on election day and if there's a problem they go and help handle it," he said. "I"ll make a motion to approve the contract; I know we need their help."
Both Eggleston and Vanco said elections in the county have been running smoothly.
"I would say my experience with our elections department has been phenomenal," Vanco said.
The commissioners also approved the 2014 millage rates at 19.5 mills, with 18.5 mills used for the general fund and 1 mill used for debt reduction.
A number of appointments were also made. Rene Heilman Johnson was appointed the county solicitor, Pam Matve was appointed as chief clerk and Kristy Knupp was appointed to a two-year term to the Housing Authority board of directors.