Audit: TriMet has unfunded $1 billion liability

Audit: TriMet has unfunded $1 billion liability

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by KGW Staff and Associated Press

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kgw.com

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 30 at 3:10 AM

PORTLAND -- A state audit of TriMet says it needs to fix a culture of low morale, secrecy, safety problems and more than $1 billion in unfunded financial obligations.

More: Read the audit

In response, the Portland transit agency says it will implement all the audit recommendation with a priority on safety. General Manager Neil McFarlane says the organization recognizes there is always the opportunity to do better.

More: Read the TriMet response

Auditors found maintenance of the MAX light-rail system has declined significantly in the past decade.

Secretary of State Kate Brown says the agency also has urgent financial issues to address.

The agency has an unfunded liability close to $1.1 billion to pay benefits for current and retired employees and their beneficiaries. Brown said TriMet needs "to consider including a specific strategy"  its strategic planning for dealing with that liability.

More: TriMet - No contract changes, less bus service

She wrote that the agency needs "to improve its transparency and engagement policies and practices."  While TriMet seeks public input, it does not do a good job of explaining what that input meant in making agency decisions, she wrote.

More: Bridge-naming official: Not 'popularity contest'

The agency should also create a hotline for employees to report fraud, waste and abuse, she said. TriMet needs to meet with driver union leaders outside the contract negotiating process.

TriMet operates 79 bus lines with 6,800 stops and four MAX lines covering 52 miles.

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