“If this isn’t resolved, it will mean jurisdictions won’t have money to pay their bills,’’ said Jeffrey C. McKay, an alternate member of Metro’s board and a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “They’ll either have to stop services they’re providing or they’re going to have to find another source of funding.”
Local jurisdictions and transit agencies, including NVTC, were asked to sign a revised annual contract with Virginia that would allow the state to have a seat on some of their boards. Metro board members from Virginia say they think the state is trying to secure two seats on their board — a voting member, already approved this year by the General Assembly, and an alternate, nonvoting member.
But Thelma D. Drake, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, denied that the state is seeking a second seat on the Metro board through the contract change. She said the agreement would give the state seats on other local transit boards, and she plans to send a letter this week to the Metro board to clarify that.
Drake said she has been trying to talk to the NVTC about the contract since spring, but officials there have not been clear about what their opposition has been.
She said she has spoken three times to Richard Taube, executive director of the NVTC, about the contract.
“I don’t know why this isn’t resolved,’’ Drake said. “It’s unfortunate that we’re at this point. We can’t fix the problem we didn’t know was here.”
However, Kala Quintana, NVTC’s director of communications, said Taube has exchanged at least a half-dozen phone calls and e-mails with the Department of Rail and Transportation, Drake and others on releasing the funds.
Quintana said the agency has lawyers reviewing the memorandum.
“We’re trying to work through any legal concerns we have,” Quintana said. “We’re asking they release the funds until we determine whether we can legally sign the document. We want to keep the region moving and make sure we can pay our bills on time and make sure we can keep buses and transit actually running.”
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said any locality or agency that signs the contract will receive its money. “If they don’t sign the contract, they won’t receive funds,’’ he said.
Of the 54 entities across the state asked to sign amended transit contracts, only the NVTC, Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria have refused, state officials say.
The NVTC is expected to meet Thursday in executive session to discuss the contract. Taube is scheduled to talk to state officials Friday.