Grants and Funding, News

Ag Worker Vanpool Update

From Edhat.com, Santa Barbara, County of Santa Barbara, 11 Apr 2011.


Edhat Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

The county [of Santa Barbara] has received an extension of a $3 million grant with funds designated for an agricultural worker vanpool. Here’s how they’ll spend a million of it.

*Meeting Agenda Letter*

Recommended Actions: That the Board of Supervisors:

A) Receive and file the closure report from the Public Works Department regarding the County’s Agricultural Worker Transportation Program (AWTP); and

B) Authorize the County Purchasing Manager to procure thirty-five (35) GMC fifteen (15)-passenger vans from Kings County to transfer to Cal Vans for a total amount of $998,494 at the request of Caltrans; and

C) Upon approval of Recommendation B, approve the attached budget revision No. 0001358 (Attachment 1), for the purchase of thirty-five (35) GMC fifteen (15)-passenger vans (4/5 Vote Required); and D) Authorize the transfer of thirty-five new vans (Recommendation B), sixteen existing vans, office furniture, and copier under County ownership to Kings County by June 30, 2011 for use by Cal Vans, a statewide vanpool agency at the request of Caltrans.

On December 13, 2007, the County received notice from Caltrans that it had received an award of funding for nearly $3.1 million from the State’s Agricultural Worker Transportation Program (AWTP) to operate a farmworker vanpool program referred to as AgVAN in the north region of the County. The County used this funding to purchase vans and pay for program operations consistent with the terms of the grant. The grant stipulated that funding for the AWTP pilot program would expire on June 30, 2010. However, in May of 2009 the State granted one year extensions to participating local agencies so that the AWTP pilot program would expire on June 30, 2011. On September 28, 2010, your Board received a progress report summarizing two and a half years of performance data on the County’s AWTP pilot program. The progress report stated that continuing the program in its current form would not be financially feasible due to insufficient farmworker vanpooling utilization. Following receipt of this progress report, your Board directed Public Works to return in the Spring of 2011 with a report from Caltrans on procedures for concluding the AWTP in an orderly manner, including directions on how to surplus or transfer programming assets and vans by June 30, 2011. We have summarized for your Board, the actions being taken by County staff, the Santa Maria Organization of Transportation Helpers (SMOOTH, the County’s operator of the AgVAN program), Caltrans and Kings County (the headquarters for Cal Vans beginning on July 1, 2011). The following is a description of the activities required to conclude the County’s AgVAN program.

1. Use of Remaining AWTP Grant Funds: Your Board has two options for the use of remaining grant funds which total approximately $1.9 million.

Option A: As stated in a letter from Caltrans dated March 2, 2011 (Attachment 2), and in follow-up conversations with Caltrans staff, the State is requesting that the County complete a final purchase of vans utilizing approximately 50% of the remaining AWTP grant funds. The County would transfer these vans as assets to the newly formed Cal Vans (a statewide vanpooling agency) for farmworker transportation.

• Santa Barbara County would procure from Kings County thirty-five (35) new vans at $28,528 each, for a total cost of $998,494. Kings County recently procured these vans using an acceptable lowest responsible bid process.

• The vans will not be used during the time they are owned by the County of Santa Barbara.

• The County of Santa Barbara would be the “legal” owner and Kings County would be the “registered and insured” owner. Kings County would name the County of Santa Barbara as “additionally insured” to protect the County from liability.

• The County of Santa Barbara would transfer to Kings County $998,494 and be reimbursed by Caltrans from AWTP grant funds. Kings County and ultimately Cal Vans would have additional start-up resources to assist vanpooling state-wide and the ability to maintain a staffed satellite office in Santa Barbara County to facilitate vanpooling in our region.

• Following this reimbursement by Caltrans, the County would transfer “legal” ownership of the vans back to Kings County using the Caltrans-approved Transfer of Assets document.

• All remaining grant funds (approximately $900,000) would revert to the State. The County of Santa Barbara and all eight cities within the County would directly benefit from participating in this final purchase of vans. On March 17, 2011, the SBCAG Board voted to join Cal Vans through the approval of a Joint Powers Agreement. Funding received by Kings County provides Receive a Closure Report on the Agriculture Worker Transportation Program;

the necessary financial resources to Cal Vans to maintain a satellite office in Santa Maria. The office would be located in SMOOTH’s existing office building and a staff member employed by Cal Vans would be able to facilitate vanpools for local employers throughout our region. Consistent with Cal Vans’ mission, this staff would facilitate farmworker vanpools as well. Cal Vans would maintain this staffing presence for a minimum of two to three years to enable program growth, which could lead to a permanent office, depending on vanpool utilization rates in our region.

Option B: The County would pay final costs for operating the AgVAN program until June 30, 2011. The County would return all remaining AWTP grant funds, approximately $1.9 million, to the State.

2. Transfer Assets to Kings County: Caltrans has directed local agencies to transfer existing vans and equipment purchased with AWTP grant funds to Cal Vans, to use for their intended purpose as farmworker transportation. Public Works is asking your Board to authorize the transfer of sixteen (16) existing vans, office furniture, and a copier purchased by the County using AWTP grant funds, to Kings County by June 30, 2011, for use by Cal Vans. Caltrans has also directed any remaining AWTP grant funds will be redirected to the State.

3. Coordination with Existing Vanpools and Termination of Service Contracts: As of March 18, 2011, there were nine AgVANs in operation and three additional drivers ready to form vanpools once their contract for agricultural work begins. SMOOTH staff will communicate to the drivers the shift from County AgVAN to Cal Vans, and discuss program and fare changes associated with this shift.

The goal is to transfer these existing vanpools seamlessly to Cal Vans for continued operation, if feasible. The County and SMOOTH have used local vendors such as Wright Express (fuel), Stowasser Buick GMC, and Sterling Communications in the operation of the AgVAN program. SMOOTH staff will communicate the program changes to these local vendors and coordinate with Ron Hughes (Executive Director of Cal Vans starting July 1, 2011) to determine the feasibility of continuing to use these local vendors in Cal Vans’ operations in our region.

The State funded AWTP, administered by Caltrans, funds 100% of all costs associated with this pilot program. With your Board’s approval of the attached budget revision (Attachment 1), an additional $1,020,000 for the final purchase of thirty-five (35) vans from Kings County will be budgeted in Fund 0019, Project 830713, Line Item Account 8300. Please note, this budget revision includes the purchase price for the thirty-five vans totaling $998,484, and a contingency of approximately $22,000. The approximately $900,000 in remaining AWTP State grant funds encumbered for Santa Barbara County use, will become unencumbered and available to the State General Fund on June 30, 2011, after all final invoices are paid.

See additional documents and referenced attachments

Read at: Edhat.com, Santa Barbara, “Ag Worker Vanpool Update,” County of Santa Barbara, 11 Apr 2011.

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