Cumberland County commissioners request audit of CAT

CARLISLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, PA. -- Cumberland County commissioners are calling for the state auditor general to take a look at Capital Area Transit's management and operations.

Cumberland County pays $300,000 a year to be a part of the transit system, but officials question CAT's quality of service and it's finances.

Commissioners said they filed a Right-to-Know request against the same group that THEY'RE a part of, Capital Area Transit. Officials said the information received in return left them with more questions than answers.

Capital Area Transit's bus service in Cumberland County has Cumberland County commissioners feeling as if they're being taken for a ride.

Cumberland County Board of Commissioners secretary Gary Eichelberger said "we do not feel like we are getting our money's worth, and it's not just the service levels either, we have witnessed a number of management shortcomings."

Capital Area Transit interim general manager Tony Johnson said "there are some things that may have slipped through the cracks in the past. What we're doing now is we're taking proactive steps to make sure that the staff are meeting all of the federal obligations, so that we can maintain our funding on the state and federal levels."

County commissioners who were questioning how the transit agency is being run, had CAT's financial records examined and they say they discovered that some high-level executives were receiving two pensions instead of one.

"The question is, is an organization such as CAT, that is not able to meet its performance targets, and whose cost is so far out of line, is this a good business practice for them to offer," Eichelberger said.

"The plan has to be funded, anything that we spend, is a part of the actual operating budget, so the board of directors of both Cumberland and Dauphin counties approve the operating budget every single year, that pension has been a part of that budget, from my understanding since 1977," Johnson said.

Commissioners said getting the information too more than time, that they had to file a Right-To-Know request.

"They provided some data, a box full of documents, without an accounting of what's there. About two-thirds of the information requested was not present, so we are now, compelled to file yet another right to know request Eichelberger said.

Meanwhile, Cumberland County commissioners would like to take another route with CAT.

"We happen to believe through our due diligence that that course is to participate in the PennDOT regionalization which would put rabbit transit of York at the helm of a regional entity,"

"I think that if you have a capital, and you have a transit system in that capital, it doesn't really make sense for me to not have a transit system in the capital of the state," Johnson said.

Johnson has nearly 30 years experience in the business, but has only been on the job one week since moving to the area from Texas.

Although Cumberland County's concerns are new to him, Johnson plans to make any necessary changes or improvements to steer the agency in the right direction.