EMTA picks familiar face as new CEO By David Bruce / david.bruce@timesnews.com

Erie Times-News |

WEB STORY

A relatively new Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority board selected a familiar face as its CEO.

Board members unanimously voted to hire Jeremy Peterson to run the authority during their meeting Monday. Peterson, 38, has worked at EMTA since 2011, most recently as interim, then acting CEO.

"Jeremy was the obvious candidate for quite some months but we wanted to hold off on a search to see how he would handle things," said David Robinson, board chairman. "There's no question that he is the right person at the right time for this authority."

EMTA had been without a permanent leader since August, when Lynn Schantz resigned as CEO under pressure following a tumultuous four-month tenure that included payment issues with the Erie School District, one of EMTA's main customers.

Her departure led to Erie Mayor Joe Schember and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper to call for the board members' mass resignations as part of a plan to reconstitute the board. The new board members started meeting in November.

Since Peterson was named interim CEO, he has handled several important matters, including a new contract with EMTA's union employees and completion of phase two of the authority building's renovation and expansion project.

"We found Jeremy to be knowledgeable and well-connected, not just across Erie but across the state, too," Robinson said. "His experience with EMTA, he started in operations, has really proved to be beneficial."

Peterson said he will work to solve the most pressing issues for ETMA riders, including the addition of late-night bus routes. He also is working to reopen negotiations with Millcreek Township supervisors, who slashed the township's annual EMTA funding from $20,000 to $2,454 and raised questions about how the authority derives its funding formula for municipalities.

"If what they are saying is that they don't believe the funding is equitable, then OK, let's look at it," Peterson said. "Let's look at all of the municipalities and look at their riders, routes and what everyone else is getting."

Peterson will earn $105,000 a year as CEO, less than the $125,000 annual salary Schantz received.

Robinson said board members looked at salaries of top executives at other transit authorities and determined that Peterson's salary is equitable and fair.

"The previous (CEO's) salary was excessive," Robinson said. "None of us were on the board when that decision was made."

David Bruce can be reached at 870-1736 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNbruce.

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