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News 2 Investigators: other cities don't have trouble with their bus system

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Posted: Jul 23, 2013 10:35 PM by Ryan Naquin
Updated: Jul 23, 2013 10:35 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: BATON ROUGE, Capital Area Transit System, missing money, fareboxes, CATS, CFO, Gary Owens, one hundred thousand dollars missing, CEO Brian Marshall, board, public, fare, collection, box, computer, counter

BATON ROUGE - The scandal that has the Capital Area Transit System searching for missing money keeps rolling along.

"We've had these reconciling differences since we had the fareboxes," CATS CFO Gary Owens said.

What he calls 'reconciling differences' adds up to more than $100,000 missing over a three-and-a-half year span.

Owens knew about it all along. He told the former CATS CEO Brian Marshall who didn't tell the board or public about what is possibly a problem with the fare collection box's computer counter.

"We felt comfortable that our control of the assets was adequate, and that there must be some sort of software glitch," Owens said.

But CATS never dealt with the glitch and never looked for new software.

"We have not because we'd have to go replacing all of our fareboxes and those would cost about $6000 a piece," Owens said.

At times as much as eight, nine and ten percent of what the computer recorded as collected went missing each month.

That's not happening in another city similar in size to Baton Rouge and using the same software.

"There is a slight variance that we experience when using our farebox which is less than one percent," El Paso's bus system spokesperson Laura Cruz-Acosta said.

In New Mexico, the transit system says anything over five-percent is alarming. CATS missed double that amount in April.

"Those variances sometimes mean that there is a human involvement in that," said Cruz-Acosta.

Baton Rouge Mayor President Kip Holden wants answers about what is going on. "Give a full accounting to the public as to where those missing dollars are," he demanded at a meeting with CATS Tuesday.

But even with CATS board members and CEO Bob Mirabito's explanations, he wasn't satisfied.

"There is going to have to be a clear evaluation of what happened. Why did it happen? And what safeguards need to be put into place to make sure it doesn't happen again," Holden said.

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