Legislative Auditor Delivers Even More Evidence Of CATS As A Graft Engine

The Baton Rouge Advocate has the story of the fresh developments in the ongoing scandal that is the Capital Area Transportation System…

The Capital Area Transit System failed to take in more than $150,000 in bus fares and bus pass revenue during the 18-month period beginning in 2012, according to a report released by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office.

The 25-page report shows CATS management was aware of the cash shortages, but “failed to take substantive action to prevent repeated shortages.” The agency may have violated state laws “by continually neglecting to safeguard public funds,” the report said.

The Legislative Auditor’s office initiated its investigation after CATS management notified the office about suspicious payments that indicated CATS board member Montrell McCaleb used $1,484 of CATS funds to pay his personal bills. CATS management notified the Legislative Auditor on July 19, the day after The Advocate first reported the story.

McCaleb was investigated by the Louisiana Inspector General’s Office, which led to his arrest in September.

CATS is going to say this was all old stuff that has been taken care of. Except the $18 million-per-year tax which enables this pathetic waste and abuse of public funds persists.

And does anybody really believe a total revamp of CATS procedures has taken place? From the audit

Bus Fares Not Deposited

Capital Area Transit System (CATS) records indicate that from January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, bus fares totaling $79,496 were not deposited in the bank. Although it appears that CATS’s management was aware of cash fare shortages during this period, they failed to take substantive actions to prevent repeated shortages and safeguard public funds. In addition, we found that CATS lacked written policies and procedures for bus fare box processing, used broken and out-of-date equipment, and failed to adequately train employees. By continually neglecting to safeguard public funds, members of CATS’s management and employees may have violated state law.

Bus Passes Used without Revenue Collected and/or Deposited

CATS’s records indicate that from January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, bus passes valued at $78,648 were used with no corresponding revenue being either collected and/or deposited in the bank. Inadequate policies and procedures over passes, cash collections, and cash deposits allowed passes and revenues to go missing without being detected. By failing to account for all passes and to collect and/or deposit all pass revenue, members of CATS’s management and employees may have violated state law.

Improper Payments to Employees and Improper Payroll Practices

On April 26, 2013 and August 30, 2013, CATS improperly paid employees $35,459 for hours not worked and leave not earned. In addition, CATS’s overall payroll practices are not consistent with written policy and payroll disbursements are not substantiated by the appropriate records. By making inappropriate payments to employees, CATS’s management may have violated state law.

There’s a lot of detail in the 25-page report, but basically what it says is that the bus system in Baton Rouge was run by morons and there was no real attempt at accounting for the money it took in – and that this may have been going on for a long time.

In other words, CATS was poorly run at the time the “smart set” was out beating the bushes to get people to support the idea that “you can’t have a great city without a great public transit system” and therefore more taxes were necessary. CATS was an inefficient money-hole before, and now it’s a rich inefficient money-hole courtesy of your tax dollars.

It’s time to repeal the CATS tax and return that money to its rightful owners. East Baton Rouge Parish has too many graft engines and honey pots already.

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