Thursday, January 8, 2009

Regional VP of First Transit Addresses Improper Procurement

The elephant was in the room as Dave Morgan, General Manager of the Greater Roanoke Transit Company – Valley Metro led a presentation on the history of GRTC.

About a month ago the assistant general manager, William “Chip” Holdren and the Valley Metro procurement officer, Matt Wynn, were suspended for allegedly forging procurement documents. Bids had been solicited to redecorate Holdren’s Metro office. The amount came to over $223,000 and the contract was awarded to Holdren’s wife, Diane Holdren, the president and owner of Holdren’s Interiors.
First Transit is the Cincinnati Ohio based transit management service that manages Valley Metro. City Council serves as Valley Metro’s Board of Directors.
With a $8.1 million operating budget, Morgan expects ridership to break 2.5 million passengers in fiscal year 2009. The Trolley in 7 weeks of operation has carried 331 passengers per day, which far exceeds the expected 80 to 100 daily passengers, said Morgan.
At the end of the presentation Mayor David Bowers commended Dave Morgan as a good manager and asked for assurance that the alleged impropriety on the part of Holdren and Wynn would not reoccur.
At the City Manager’s request Bill Williamson, the Region Vice President of First Transit, addressed the issue saying “we took immediate steps to try to bring the situation under control.” Besides suspending the assistant general manager and procurement officer, Williamson said the company also reviewed the procurement regulations for GRTC, the City, the State, and the Federal Transit Administration. Depending on the dollar amount it will now require a higher level of authority for procurement approvals. Williamson himself would be involved in the approval process. He also brought in one of First Transit’s managers to act as Assistant Manager to Dave Morgan. Williamson is also offering the assistance of First Transit’s own auditors saying we were “aghast at what happened and we feel terrible about that and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.”
Councilman Court Rosen asked, “will First Transit reimburse the City” if the allegations prove correct. Williamson said, “we are prepared to step forward and meet that commitment” if the facts clearly support the allegations.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics



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