Messages from CATS CEO and Board of Commissioners

A Message from Matt Thomas, Board Treasurer

October 28, 2021

To the Capital Area Transit System Board of Commissioners and Stakeholders:

A report yesterday evening by WBRZ stated that CATS CEO Bill Deville accepted payment for a car allowance covering a period after the agency ceased that policy in May 2019. To be clear, WBRZ incorrectly classified a payment that was entirely legitimate.

In fact, the one-time payment made in 2020 was the result of previous contractually agreed upon expenses from 2016-2019 that, due to a system error, simply had not been paid during the time they accrued.

Once the underpayment was identified, CATS issued a one-time payment that was added to his normal paycheck. It is not uncommon for paychecks to reflect allowable, one-time reimbursements in these types of situations.

To reiterate – no CATS employees, including the CEO, were paid a car allowance for any period after May 2019, and the payment made in 2020 was completely appropriate.

It’s disappointing that WBRZ also continues to rehash the claim of missing funds that has already been addressed in my previous statement. If the media insists on repeating errors, we will repeat the truths.

An extensive audit by Postlethwaite and Netterville found that no improper financial management occurred, and all expenditures and revenue is accounted for.

It is my intent to correct incorrect assumptions and rumors with the truth as our financial records indicate. 

 

Parry "Matt" Thomas

Capital Area Transit System Board of Commissioners, Treasurer 

A Message from CATS CEO, Bill Deville 

October 21, 2021

In recent days, CATS has been the subject of various and unsubstantiated allegations. I am personally reviewing these claims with all seriousness because of my vow to be good stewards of taxpayer funds. My initial review is that these allegations are without merit. 

I stand firmly in upholding the values of CATS and it’s commitment to providing critical transit services. I refuse to allow unfounded accusations to deter us from that mission. 

I take all allegations extremely seriously, and recognize they do require due diligence from everyone before sharing them with the broader public.

In response, I would like to assure the citizens that I have launched an internal review of the issues that have been brought to my attention. I promise that any unethical allegation that can be confirmed or corroborated will result in swift corrective action. 

My preliminary findings indicate that many of the allegations levied against the agency involve former personnel. I will adhere to a long-standing CATS policy, we do not comment on personnel matters, past or present. 

Based on the levied allegations, these are the more salient points I will address:

  • In an annual audit performed by Posttlewaite & Netterville it was recommended that CATS modify the Paid Time Off (PTO) Policies, to which we took immediate action by restricting the sale of PTO by employees back to the Agency. I am happy to announce CATS has received what is considered Unqualified Audits (an accounting practice term) by Posttlewaite & Netterville, to date.
  • The accusation that CATS is in violation of agency policies and procedures by awarding multiple $50,000 contracts is patently false. Contracts are reported to the Board monthly in accordance to authorized Board Policy and By-laws.
  • I can assure the public that under my leadership, as CEO, which became effective September 2016, that the appropriate changes were made to personnel, policies and procedures to resolve the audit findings of 2013 regarding the reconciliation of fare box revenue.  

I promise the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish, I will investigate these claims and every legitimate complaint will be addressed.  

It is important to note that throughout this process, I will remain steadfast and focused on the renewal of our upcoming millage. I know this is vital to our ridership, workers, and businesses CATS supports each day. This is a critical time for our agency and thus I will continue to be transparent with you as we move forward.   

A Message from CATS Board Treasurer, Matt Thomas

October 22, 2021

I am the Treasurer of CATS and in the fall of 2018, I became concerned that the balance sheets and financial reports were grossly inaccurate for the months of November and December. I reported my concerns to the CATS finance director, CEO, and President of the Board.

I was assured that these large discrepancies were due to a change in accounting systems and would be corrected in connection with the audit beginning January 2019 for the 2018 year. 

 Postlewaite & Netterville, who conducts CATS’ annual audits, was able to trace every check, deposit and all income and expenses and determined that there were no missing funds.

 CATS and our audit committee is prepared to explain their findings to anyone who inquires, and we stand by the audit which shows no illegal activity or missing funds.

 I hope this can assure the public that NO improper handling of the finances in 2018 through 2020 occurred, and we have received clean unqualified audits.