Jan. 09--Butte-Silver Bow would deliver excellent door-to-door van and bus service to people with disabilities if it takes over operations from a private provider, the county's transit director said Wednesday.
"The underlying responsibility, if we do take it over, will be to guarantee that the service will be top-notch," Gary Keeler told the Council of Commissioners.
Under a plan being considered, the county would end a nearly 20-year contractual tie with Anaconda-based AWARE Inc. to provide rides as part of the area's public transit system.
Keeler reiterated earlier comments that AWARE has done a great job, but said costs have increased significantly in recent years.
Mike Shea, transportation director for the private, non-profit AWARE, has said the county is paying $218,000 to AWARE for the current fiscal-year contract that ends June 30. That's an increase of $20,000 over the previous year, he said.
Keeler said under the plan, Butte-Silver Bow would take over the service and lease vehicles for the first year. But it also would apply for at least two new vans through grants.
The county would hire its own drivers, but he said it is likely some current drivers for AWARE would be among them because they know the routes and are familiar with the service.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires that cities with fixed-route public transit systems also provide services for people with disabilities who cannot access the regular system.
If the county decides to take over the service, Keeler said at the very least it would require budget approval from the council.
Schultz confirmed as works director
Commissioners confirmed Dave Schultz on Wednesday as new director of Butte-Silver Bow's Public Works Depart-ment.
Chief Executive Matt Vincent nominated Schultz last week and the council voted 11-0 to confirm him. Schultz, who has been the county's manager of water and roads since May 2013, takes over for Dan Dennehy, who recently stepped down to become director of the county's emergency operations.
Commissioner Dave Palmer said there were 10 applicants for the public works post and Schultz "clearly rose to the top."
Schultz has pledged to improve the quality of life in the Butte area, including better streets and planting more trees in an effort to "green" the city.
Interviews set for new HR director
Chief Executive Matt Vincent told commissioners Wednesday that another round of interviews are set for next week before a new human resources director is nominated.
Vincent fired Lindsey Moe as director in October, saying she was disloyal in her duties, in large part because she did not immediately tell him about a lawsuit some county employees were considering over wage issues.
Moe has since filed a lawsuit alleging Vincent violated open meetings laws by holding a closed session with commissioners before they gave Vincent the go-ahead to fire her. The lawsuit seeks to overturn her dismissal, among other things.
Reach Smith at email@example.com or 406-496-5511.
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