February 28, 2012Bruce Warner, Chair TriMet Board of Directors 4012 SE 17th Avenue Portland, Oregon 97202
Re: TriMet Lift Audit
Dear Chair Warner,
At the February 22, 2012 TriMet Board of Directors’ Meeting, you indicated that yourself and other Board members were interested in learning more about the 2008 Lift Audit report prepared by Lauka and Associates, Certified Public Accountants. That was welcome news. TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, at the same Board meeting, made comments suggesting that TriMet managers were going to come up with their own numbers. That was not so welcome news.
Until the 2008 Audit, TriMet and ATU 757 had long been at odds as to the actual cost of providing paratransit services in-house, as compared to providing such service through private contractors. TriMet and the Union could never agree on the model and methodology to be used in performing a true cost analysis, which ultimately led to the provision set forth in the parties’ 1998 collective bargaining agreement requiring the audit to be performed. As I have previously mentioned, the Lift audit did not actually get completed until 2008 because of years of litigation which ultimately forced TriMet to comply.
Prior to commencement of the audit, TriMet’s General Manager at the time, Fred Hansen, and his leadership committee had to agree to the methodology the audit would cover. TriMet’s Chief Financial Officer, Dave Auxier, was personally involved in directing and approving each step of the audit procedure. It took considerable time and negotiations for the parties to agree on the audit parameters.
TriMet taxpayers need to know the truth. If it is less cost for TriMet to operate paratransit service in-house, than it costs for private contractors to provide the service, it should be a no brainer. To rely on TriMet management’s analysis as to what the audit represents, takes the parties back to the pre-1998 agreement argument, and simply, would not be credible.
We propose that TriMet and the Union jointly direct Lauka & Associates to update the audit, providing them with the 2005 through 2011 TriMet budget numbers, pursuant and in compliance with the 1998 collective bargaining agreement. Lauka & Associates would present their findings before a public meeting of the TriMet Board of Directors, providing all parties the opportunity to ask questions regarding the audit findings. This is transparency. This is what the TriMet Board of Directors should demand.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Jonathan Hunt President-Business Representative
cc: TriMet Board Members ATU members