03/23/11 — Two take on new duties with GATEWAY after restructuring

View Archive

Two take on new duties with GATEWAY after restructuring

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 23, 2011 2:24 PM

The executive director and operations manager of the GATEWAY transit system have been replaced in a restructuring move that could be the first step toward converting the bus and van system into a department of either Wayne County or the city of Goldsboro.

That isn't expected to happen anytime soon, but it is something that County Manager Lee Smith expects to be discussed in coming months.

The restructuring is an attempt to change the direction in which the system is headed, Smith said.

Trey Rhodes, who has worked in the county's Office of Emergency Services for the past nine years, was introduced Tuesday at the authority's meeting as GATEWAY's new executive director and Terry Jordan as its operations manager.

Rhodes replaces Alan Stubbs, who had served as executive director for the past five years. Stubbs resigned last month.

Jordan will be paid $55,000 and Rhodes about $60,000. Stubbs had received $66,000.

Smith said the restructuring was "not necessarily" deigned to make GATEWAY a county department.

However, he said he was "not going to rule that out" and that it is "something that we need to look at."

First the county would need to talk with the Federal Transportation Authority and the state's public transit department, he said.

"It really changes when you become a full government unit -- it really changes things," he said.

The rural side of the GATEWAY operation is self-supporting, but the urban part is not, he said. That is not unusual and people would be hard pressed to find an urban system that isn't subsidized by local government, he said.

"I have said to the GATEWAY board that I would like to look at that (department status)," he said. "We have a new city manager coming on board. It could be a city department. I don't know. I think that we have to look at all of our options and then see what will best fit and make GATEWAY successful. So I say put them all on the table and look at them.

Jordan replaces Michael Branch, who had only served as operations manager since mid-October of last year. Branch resigned in February as well.

Rhodes and Jordan, as was Stubbs, are county employees leased back to GATEWAY. That makes them eligible for state retirement benefits. Being able to offer that kind of arrangements helps to attract people to the job, Smith said.

It is possible that county employee status eventually could be extended to all GATEWAY employees, since the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners is dropping the health insurance the employees had been eligible for.

"We are trying to look at how we keep quality people at GATEWAY," Smith said. "We are going to look at a cost plan that would have to be reimbursed to the county -- there would be no additional costs to the county. It would be out of their budget, but to make those folks county employees and lease them back."

The restructuring also includes combining some positions. For example, Arnold Underwood who had served as finance officer for GATEWAY is retiring. His duties will be split between Jordan and Rhodes saving the county about $16,000 annually, Smith said.

"Terry was brought on because we needed some strong expertise in grants," Smith said. "Federal transit and public transit in North Carolina -- you get the bulk of your money from state and federal money and those grants are really, really difficult.

"We needed somebody to stay on top of those. Terry has extensive experience and I can see that he is going to help us access additional funds that we have not tapped into before. We need that kind of financial expertise there that we have not had in many, many years."