City, County to consider ’major changes’ for WAVE after request for $700,000 loan

City, County to consider ’major changes’ for WAVE after request for $700,000 loan

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - City of Wilmington and New Hanover County leaders plan to weigh “major changes” to the leadership of WAVE Transit next week, including potential replacement of the authority board.

According to a release from the city ahead of its meetings Monday and Tuesday, the city and county are considering these changes after the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority requested a $700,000 loan due to cash flow issues.

Both bodies — Wilmington City Council and the New Hanover County Commission — will reportedly consider resolutions to amend the existing interlocal agreements they have with WAVE, with a proposal the existing 11-member board be dissolved and replaced “by a board made up of high level city and county staff.”

Proposed members of the new board:

  • New Hanover County Manager
  • City of Wilmington Manager
  • City of Wilmington Attorney
  • New Hanover County Deputy Attorney
  • City of Wilmington Finance Director
  • New Hanover County Finance Director
  • Executive Director of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

This move would come before the city and county begin their work to examine the long-term future of the public transit authority.

“The new board would remain in place while the city and county conduct a review of WAVE’s current operations and options for improvement, which was approved at the last Board and Council meetings," the city’s update reads.

If approved, the new board would meet for the first time on Feb. 10.

As for the requested loan, the vote Tuesday would also be for a proposed $400,000 loan to be repaid by June 30. If that loan is not repaid by then, the city would have the option to withhold funding for the next fiscal year.

WAVE board member and area transportation expert Laura Padgett said while she hadn’t seen the resolution itself yet, the news did not come as a surprise.

She said she hopes the close look at WAVE’s finances will give city and county leaders a better idea of what the transit system actually does.

“I think that this attention hopefully will provide an opportunity where WAVE and its finances are looked at however closely people want to look," she said. "I truly believe that what they’re going to find is WAVE stretches a dollar really far.”

Padgett pointed to WAVE’s involvement with evacuations during Hurricane Florence as an example of where the transit system provided transportation out of Wilmington ahead of the storm, but still has not received complete reimbursement from FEMA.

“It’s contribution is enormous, but people still think, ‘They just don’t do enough.’”

WECT is reaching out to those involved and will update this story as information becomes available.

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