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Privileges for a chosen few, 13 highest paid CATS employees receive car allowances

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BATON ROUGE- The Capital Area Transit System is reviewing car allowance policies to see if changes are necessary, as the WBRZ Investigative Unit found 13 of the public agency's highest-paid employees are receiving the allowance.

The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) provides transportation for those who need it the most, but WBRZ found CATS is paying car allowances for employees who can afford it the most.

CATS told us those employees each receive $276.94 per month in a car allowance. That benefit is used to drive the two miles between the CATS offices located at 2250 Florida Boulevard and 5700 Florida Boulevard.

The $276.94 amount CATS provided does not match up with the amounts that were leaked to the WBRZ Investigative Unit. Those documents show $300 was the benefit amount in offer letters given to some employees who receive the allowance. 

"When we have management that receives a $300 car allowance and the majority of the managers live in Baton Rouge, there's no reason for a car allowance," an employee speaking anonymously said.

CATS declined to do an on-camera interview and stopped answering questions about who receives the allowances other than saying the benefit goes to employees in director, chief level, and manager positions.

Communications Director Amie McNaylor is one of the directors receiving the car allowance according to our sources.

"Prior to the receipt of your request, CATS was in the process of having the new human resources manager review a number of internal policies, including the car allowance policy; any necessary and relevant revisions will be incorporated into policies as needed," McNaylor wrote in an email.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit checked with the State Legislative Auditor's Office which routinely gives best practices for public entities. The auditor's office said none of its own 265 employees receive a car allowance, and if employees do receive one, generally speaking, they should not be riding in the agency's public vehicles. Their cars should solely be used for work purposes since they get a car allowance.

Insiders at CATS said that is not happening.

"For the ones that don't live in Baton Rouge, they choose to make that drive," our source said. "So, there's a lot of waste of money, salaries. There's no pay structure. There's no discipline structure. Depending on who you are and who you know will determine how much you're paid and what perks you get."

CATS never answered questions about why there was a discrepancy in the car allowance amounts WBRZ was given. They also would not answer questions about which employees are receiving them after we provided a list of possible names.

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