A two-day GIBA quarterly board meeting was concluded on Monday, Nov. 19, which included updates on the toll collection system and raffic numbers coming soon. Prior to that, though, GIBA Advisory Board Members Jay Feinberg and Bill Klettke were sworn in and joined Ginger Watkins, Gay Darsie and Drew Tucker as voting members. Randy Hicks and Peter Strong participated as advisory members.
The toll collection system upgrade to all software and hardware is in progress and anticipated to be complete by April of 2019. All current toll rates and policies will remain the same. The wiring has been completed in lanes two and three, and the toll system company is currently working on the cameras and card/sticker reader technology.
GIBA toll takers will begin distributing informational flyers regarding upcoming toll upgrade dates, and it was reported that all of GIBA’s current active toll cards and stickers will be exchanged with RFID cards and stickers at no cost. All current cards and stickers will continue to work with the new technology while exchanges are being made, and the current plan is to have all cards and stickers replaced by May 1, 2019.
The card exchange is set to begin in mid-December in the GIBA administration office, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and for convenience in certain toll lanes during specific hours. Signage will be visible to direct customers to the appropriate lane.
In 2019 GIBA will launch a new interactive website for customers who would like to manage their accounts online. Interested customers should send their current email address and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org for website updates.
GIBA Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico said it is important to emphasize that the mission of GIBA is to maintain safe and efficient traffic flow at all times through the toll booths, along the Causeway and along the Intracoastal Waterway, and that the presence of Charlotte County Sheriff’s deputies and the speed notification signs will continue to make the Causeway safer.
Discussion was held regarding possible improvements to the GIBA roadway between Gulf Shores Drive and the southern end of GIBA property. GIBA staff is researching the possibility of adding a multi-use path on the west side of the roadway totally within the GIBA’s right of way. An example of the multi-use path is in Charlotte County, located at the intersection of the Causeway and Placida Road. The options will be discussed at a GIBA public meeting if the right of way for the improvement is verified by an engineering survey to be completed by early 2019.
The Executive Director’s report included traffic and revenue figures for October, 2017 through September, 2018. Traffic was down one percent compared to last year, with a corresponding three percent revenue decrease. Banson-Verrico said she believes the traffic decrease is a result of the red tide that continues to be present in the area. During the period from June 3 through September 30, the total traffic decreased by only six percent, while cash toll revenue decreased by 25 percent and in some weeks by as much as 50 percent.
Bridge openings were down one percent in July, 51 percent in August and were back up 30 percent in September.
The Engineering Committee report included a discussion on the recent swing bridge inspection. The inspection was completed in October, and the final report should be complete by the end of December.
The inspectors did not note any areas of significant concern.
The Finance/Audit Committee report included a review of the unaudited fiscal year 2018 GIBA financial statements. Revenue was down by five percent compared to budget, and expenses were also down six percent. The overall net position changed by approximately $1.9 million in fiscal year 2018. The fiscal year audit fieldwork was completed in October, and the audited financial statements will be presented at the February 2019 Board meeting.
The Governance Committee report included a discussion on the annual review of the GIBA’s defined contribution plan for eligible employees. There was also a discussion on the current employee health insurance and the percentages covered by both GIBA and the employee.
The Board approved the Valic contribution at eight percent for eligible employees and also approved an increase in GIBA’s share of dependent healthcare coverage to 90 percent.