NET Trans operates 70 vehicles consisting of cut-a-way buses, para-transit vans, minivans and cars. (Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
The First Tennessee Human Resource Agency has offered exit incentive packages to 13 NET Trans administrators and two mechanics, including its director, Tim Jaynes.
FTHRA Executive Director Jason Cody said Thursday that the agency’s Governing Board has approved the offer presented to employees at a Sept. 20 meeting. These are not mandatory layoffs. However, the incentives — $500 for each year of service — are on the table for what Cody called NET Trans’ “back office,” which also includes Operations Manager Candice Gump as well as its billing operations supervisor, call center manager, scheduling coordinator, dispatcher, and so on.
“It’s a personnel issue, and I don’t think it’s newsworthy,” Cody said. “It’s a legally sensitive document. If it was a layoff, that’s one thing. It doesn’t target anybody. Otherwise, we can’t discuss ‘what if’ scenarios. We don’t want to influence anybody’s decision.”
Cody cited stagnant revenues as the reason to offer the incentives, but did not say how the staff would be replaced should a majority of them decide to leave.
“The reason behind it is like most businesses, we’ve experienced higher fuel costs and lower transit revenues,” he said. “We have 60 drivers and about 20 ‘back-office’ folks. We’ve gained efficiency in the back office, but we haven’t lost any people. So we went ahead and decided to do this.”
The Johnson City Press received by email a copy of a one-page report citing job titles, ages and verification that 15 employees had received notice of the incentive agreement. The entire document was not immediately available.
“For legal reasons, we have to show everybody this document, but this was not intended for public consumption,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to say how the transportation agency is doing financially.”
Cody later agreed the materials are a matter of public record.
The FTHRA is represented by a 30-member board of directors, including eight county mayors, 20 city/town mayors, one senator and one representative. The board meets regularly on a quarterly basis and more often when called by the board chairman or by Cody.
Board Chairman and Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey was not immediately available for comment.
The FTHRA was created in 1974 by state and local elected officials in accordance with provisions of the Tennessee Human Resource Agency Act of 1973. It is one of nine Human Resource Agencies across the state and works in concert with the other HRAs through membership in the Tennessee Association of Human Resource Agencies.
NET Trans is one of several services provided by the FTHRA, which is headquartered in Johnson City at 704 Rolling Hills Drive. The agency offers transportation, nutritional services, adult day services, shelter for domestic violence victims, senior employment, homemaker services and other social services.
The nonprofit agency relies on financial support from local governments, United Ways, grants, foundations, fundraisers and private donors.
Jaynes, 45, is the son of former Washington County Mayor George Jaynes. Ages among those offered the incentive range from 28 to 69, and Cody said the incentive is not targeted at any particular age group or tenure.
On July 1, NET Trans began offering new fixed route service in Rogersville, Greeneville and Bristol, which connected riders with every major city in its seven-county service area. This area includes Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Washington, Johnson, Sullivan and Unicoi counties.
There were several job listings posted on the NET Trans website Thursday for drivers; none for administrative positions.