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Ports & Transportation

Sept. 23 - CAT Executive Search consultant extends deadline for applications

Category: Ports & Transportation

by Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

September 23, 2016 – The consultant overseeing the search for a new CEO/Executive Director for the Chatham Area Transit Authority, Colin Baezinger & Associates, has extended the application deadline from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. 

Baezinger recently completed the search for a new City Manager for the City of Savannah.

“We want to make sure we can bring in as many qualified candidates as possible,” he explained, in an interview today.  By contract, the Authority is to receive his semi-finalists by Oct. 26, 2016, to begin interviews. 

The posting for the position on his company’s website states that “The ideal candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, public administration, transportation or related field, and seven to ten years of increasingly responsible experience as a senior level transportation agency executive.” 

It also states, “We anticipate having at least one internal candidate.”  Interim Director Curtis Koleber is expected to apply.  

The starting salary range is targeted to be between $120,000 to $180,000, and states that the “fringe benefits are generous.”  Former CEO/Director Chad Reese, who was indicted under multiple charges in Dec. 2015, and is now in Federal prison, was making approximately $160,000 annually according to Baezinger.

The job posting states that “Residency within the county limits is not required but expected.” And that the employee must be available to respond in case of an emergency.”   The CAT buses are part of the Chatham Emergency Management plan to respond to a variety of potential storms or other emergency events in Chatham County.

According to Commissioner Helen Stone, who sits on the Authority, “Curtis should not be treated any differently from any other applicant.”  She is also on the search committee, and said that Baezinger had informed them that he had not been getting in enough applicants, the reason for the extension.

Koleber joined CAT in 2013, hired by Reese as one the Authority’s directors. From 2004 until Aug. 2013, he worked for Transdev North America, formerly Veolia Transportation, which is the largest private sector operator of multiple modes of transit in North America, providing bus, rail, paratransit, shuttle, sedan and taxi services. The firm manages over 200 transportation contracts for cities, transit authorities and airports.  His resume on Linkedin states that up until August 2013 he was General Manager of Transdev.

Reese had worked in the Phoenix, AZ market during his professional career, as well.  From 2004 to 2005, he was Deputy General Manager for Veolia North America, formerly Transdev. 

In June 2010, The Chatham Area Transit (CAT) board awarded Veolia Transportation a five year ‘delegated management contract’ in Savannah. The contract also included a five year option for renewal. At the time of the award, the company issued a press release stating, “There are only two such contracts in existence in the US and Veolia Transportation now operates both. Veolia has been operating this contract for CAT for the past 16 months as a management contract. The historic move to a delegated management contract now gives Veolia Transportation total responsibility for all aspects of CAT service which includes 60 buses, two ferry boats, one streetcar and 26 paratransit vehicles. The ferry boats each carry 100 to 140 passengers and make daily trips between historic downtown Savannah and two major hotels on the waterfront. The streetcar operates along one route, also in historic downtown.”

The company explained that the CAT board would continue to oversee Veolia, “and will create a new position for a contract administrator who will be directly responsible for contract oversight.”

Two hundred and eleven CAT employees will be hired as Veolia Transportation employees, the firm explained, “but the 13 ferry boat operators will remain CAT employees.” The delegated management contract began July 1, 2010.

But the Authority later ended all dealings with the firm in 2013.  When CAT transitioned from Veolia, back to managing the transportation system directly, they also increased their Line of Credit with Wells Fargo bank from $1.7 million to $7.7 million.  It was later restructured into a $5 million note and a $1.5 million line of credit.

That line is paid down each year in December when CAT receives its federal FTA funds, and at least one million a year has been paid down on the loan, according to Terri Harrison, CFO.  The line of credit is used throughout the year because of the unevenness of funding, which can sometimes be delayed for months from when it is expected.  


In January 2016, the Line of Credit was paid down to a zero balance, and another million was paid down on the loan, bringing the total indebtedness to $3 million, with the expectation that in their low revenue months of March, April, and May to cover operating costs, Harrison would have to use the Line of Credit.



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