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SORTA Finds Extra Money After Reviewing Its Books

Sarah Ramsey

It isn't often a government agency finds an extra $8 million, but that's exactly what happened at the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) recently.

The transit agency found the surplus funds while reviewing balance sheets.  
Officials say they knew about the money but there were problems determining whether it had been allocated or spent.  

The agency's leadership appeared before a Cincinnati City Council committee Tuesday.

Council Member Amy Murray and others are troubled by the surplus.

"I don't have confidence right now in the financial system that SORTA is using," Murray said. "So I really think that you need to address to the public and to council what happened and how that is being fixed because this shouldn't be happening."

SORTA board chairman Kreg Keesee agrees.

"We're working to make sure we understand exactly what happened so it doesn't happen again," Keesee said. "I think it's good news that we've gotten to the bottom of this, to find it out sooner rather than later. And we'll make sure the folks, if there has been any mismanagement, will address with the people that did so."

The SORTA board plans to use some of the money to buy new buses and place the rest in reserve accounts.  

The news of the surplus comes as the agency may place a county-wide sales tax on the ballot this fall and ask for a fare increase to cover projected budget deficits.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.