An effort by Manatee and Sarasota counties to merge their transit systems has been put on pause.
In an email Thursday to Carolyn Mason, the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners chairwoman, Randall Reid, Sarasota County administrator, said the Oct. 15 joint commission meeting on the topic has been canceled because of the inability of the neighboring counties to come up with a plan both sides support.
The email says Ed Hunzeker, Manatee County administrator, contacted Reid at 3:10 p.m. Thursday to say he believes, “It is in best interest of the commissions to cancel the Oct. 15 joint meeting until a single agreement exists both sides can support.”
Commissioners representing both counties have already met privately to discuss jointly operating their services — Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) — under a single, private manager.
The Oct. 15 meeting was scheduled so county commissioners could try to set an interlocal agreement allowing them to secure a procurement for private sector bids to run a shared system.
In comments published in a Oct. 9 East County Observer story on the subject, Hunzeker said the partnership would increase efficiencies without adding costs to taxpayers.
In an email, Nick Azzara, Manatee County information outreach coordinator, confirmed the meeting has been canceled, saying, "Though we have yet to reach a consensus at the staff level on how a joint system will operate regionally, staff from the two counties will continue to work on a feasible solution for the two commissions to consider at a later date."
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