Covering Louisiana

Mar 28, 2014 11:49 AM by AP

Mayor: First Transit to run Monroe bus system

MONROE, La. (AP) - Mayor Jamie Mayo says that management company First Transit will continue to operate Monroe's bus system into the future even without a contract between the firm and the city.

The News-Star reports the city council voted against renewing First Transit's contract renewal in December, leaving the future of the bus system in the air. First Transit has continued to run the system since its funding is secure through the end of April.

Mayo believes he can continue paying First Transit on May 1 without a contract, but he'd have to use city funds to pay them instead of federal dollars. Federal regulations require a contract to use federal dollars to pay a management firm.

While exact figures were not immediately available, Mayo said it would cost the city about $100,000 to pay First Transit. Federal grant dollars would be redirected to cover other expenses in the system.

Mayo said he and the council members have been meeting and negotiating to find a resolution to the dispute, but he is doubling down on his position First Transit is the best choice for running the system. He's also digging in on his position against having the city manage the system itself.

"Come May 1, if the council hasn't reconsidered the administration's position, we will make sure its legal and ethical to move forward," Mayo said. "I'm not going to negotiate something I don't believe in (referring to the city running the system)."

First Transit officials said in a statement the firm would stick with the city without a contract.

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