December 2, 2021

County tells Seven Valleys it’s looking other places

Kevin Conlon/city editor

A Cortland Transit bus on Route 15 turns south Thursday afternoon on Main Street from Groton Avenue. Cortland County will seek proposals to provide mobility management services, a function that had been filled by Seven Valleys Health Organization since 2009.

Seven Valleys Health Coalition officials were surprised to hear Cortland County will seek requests for proposals from other agencies to provide mobility management services, which the nonprofit has been providing since 2009.

“My first and primary concern continues to be the county residents for whom we provide mobility management and a whole host of other services, and what impact this plan suggested by the county administrator may have on the continuity of those services,” said Jackie Carlton Leaf, the executive director of Seven Valleys in an email statement late Thursday.

The announcement comes two months before Seven Valleys was expected to ask the county to renew a two-year contract to provide mobility management services. The mobility management coordinator arranges for bus advertising, advocates for safer and accessible bike and walking routes and works with Cortland Transit to improve ridership.

The money to pay for the service comes from a $360,000 grant that Seven Valleys acquired from the state Department of Transportation. Seven Valleys also provided the 10% local share for the grant.

“We have never gone out to RFP (request for proposal) or anything else to see what else is available as far as — you know — who else could do the job and we have had people interested,” County Administrator Rob Corpora said Thursday during an Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee meeting. “So, I think at this point it would be in the best interest of everybody to put out an RFP for mobility management services. Now we may or may not get more than one taker, but there has been interest from other people and this would be the ideal time especially with all the other changes we’re doing.”

The funding for 2019-20 that was already approved by the state has Seven Valleys listed as the administrative agency of mobility management.

“So are you going to do the RFP for somebody going forward or are we looking at potentially no longer having mobility management — you’re going to take the grant we applied for and put it out to RFP for somebody else to administer?” Leaf asked.

“Whatever the current one is for, yes,” Corpora said. “Whatever one starts Jan. 1.”

Leaf said ultimately the decision on who handles mobility management lies with the county.

“While after 10 years of providing mobility management services at the county’s behest it was not the ideal way to learn of this plan, it is certainly the county’s decision to make,” Leaf said after the meeting. “I hope we can find a way to work together to ensure the community will continue to receive uninterrupted services if the RFP process is not complete by the time our current contract ends on Dec. 31.”

“I have reached out to Mr. Corpora and the legislature to request a meeting and further information but until I know more I think this is all I can say for now,” she said.

After the meeting, Legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-Cortland) and Susan Wilson (D-Cortland) talked to both Leaf and Mobility Management Coordinator Catherine Wilde, apologizing for the way they learned of the RFP.

Wilson sits on the Seven Valleys board.

Legislator Ann Homer (D-Cortland) commended Wilde at the Sept. 10 Agriculture, Planning and Environment Committee on the job she was doing.

“Since she’s taken over this position, I have not had a single complaint, where previously it was like every day I was getting a phone call or email,” Homer had said.

Homer was absent from Thursday’s meeting.