By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO July 16, 2002 After nearly two years, it appears that the run of Catskill Transit (CAT) has come to an end.
On Thursday, July 11, Sullivan County terminated their contract with the company and repossessed the bus they were leasing to CAT Owner Tony Leach.
"I was shocked," Leach said. "They wanted me out of the picture. They have deemed me incompetent. They trumped up reasons to take away the bus and the route."
On Thursday, after all the Sullivan County Legislature Committee meetings were done, Leach was called into a meeting with County Manager Dan Briggs, County Attorney Ira Cohen, and County Financial Management Administration Commissioner Richard LaCondré. Leach was told that the Legislators had decided to terminate the contract because of two contract breaches.
Leach failed to make payment on his lease the first breach. Both sides agree that Leach had a payment due of $500 on July 10.
Leach claims he did not make the payment because the county has been withholding money (Leach claims more than $20,000 is owed to him) that he has already earned. County officials counter that he knew the money was due on the 10th and had yet to file the proper paperwork to receive his money.
The second reason was because of a route deviation. Leach's route is from Sleepy Hollow and Shaker Heights and goes through the village of Monticello to such destinations as ShopRite, Wal-Mart, and the Apollo Plaza. In the contract, Leach has to follow his specified route.
On July 4, Leach took the bus to Sears in Middletown to have it serviced. According to county officials, the trip was unauthorized, and he deviated from his route several times in the past driving the bus to the government center.
"We defaulted on him for non-compliance with the contract," remarked Briggs. "Tony made a route deviation, and he did not pay his lease agreement. I feel bad for him, but there were no more options.
We have to see that the services are provided, Briggs noted. The taxpayers should not subsidize a business."
Leach received loans from the county to operate his business, and they leased him a bus to run the contracted route. Leach had the new bus on the road for two weeks when the county repossessed it. Leach is unsure of his next step but is considering legal action against the county.
As for the route, the county bid it out a few months ago. The bid was awarded to the Rolling V Bus Company of Fallsburg. The route is not exactly the same as CAT's but is very similar.
Leach has reached out to New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther for assistance in the situation. Gunther relayed to Leach that he would talk to the Legislators and talk to the New York State Department of Transportation and would get back to him.