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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Board of Directors
by Garrett Bryce
Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County today voted unanimously to approve a program to allow employees to donate their vacation time in response to Hurricane Harvey.

The item was split into two motions, with the other to be regarding an emergency employee vacation buy back program, and to authorize METRO President and CEO to establish the procedures for implementation of the program.

The board voted 7-1, with Lisa Gonzales Casteneda opposed, to approve the vacation buy back program.

Board Member Cindy Siegel sought to amend the program to put in an authorization process. She asked for the amendment to ensure the buy-back is really being used “because of Harvey.”

“I just want to make sure we are being good stewards of the dollars,” Siegel said. Listen (19:03)

Discussion continued regarding the issue of METRO “buying back” accrued insurance time for employees.

Casteneda said that METRO should provide assistance, but said that the program was “not the way to do it.”

“Sometimes you're trying to do something good and it just gets really messy,” she said.

Board Member Christof Spieler discussed his issues with METRO's general vacation buy-back program.

“The purpose of vacation is not to give people additional salary, the purpose of vacation is to let people take some time off and come back refreshed and spend time with their families,” Spieler said.

The board voted unanimously to approve a motion to modify financial parameters for METRO's business plan and budget for FY2018 to allow $10 million of reserve funds to be used for Hurricane Harvey related expenses, and that the board finds and declares that the business plan and budget includes the appropriate strategic priorities, operating principals and organizational structure in order to implement the board's policies for METRO, and adopt the FY2018 Business Plan and Budgets.

Siegel said that one of the board's most important responsibilities is handling fiduciary matters such as the budget. Listen (12:52)

The board voted 7-0-1, with Spieler abstaining, to approve a contract with Civiltech Engineering, Inc. and Midtwon Engineers, LLC for general architectural and engineering services.

The board voted 7-0-1, with Spieler abstaining, to approve a contract with Gunda Corporation and Zarinkelk Engineering Services for civil, traffic and accessibility and engineering services.

The board voted 6-0-2, with Spieler and Castaneda abstaining, to approve a contract with AECOM for light rail transit engineering support services.

All other items were approved by unanimous vote. All members were present. Agenda

During his report, METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert discussed the impact of Hurricane Harvey and METRO's response to the storm. Listen (5:21)

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