More than $3 million in taxpayer dollars is allegedly unaccounted for by Island Transit — the local transit agency serving Island County that has an annual operating budget of just $12.2 million. Yet, citing financial problems, Island Transit recently announced that it would lay off 24 employees, cancel all Saturday bus service, and eliminate or change five bus routes.
Where did all the money go? According to the South Whidbey Record, Financial Manager Barbara Savary had not run “the monthly cash flow analysis for years.” To pay for operating costs, Savary was “dipping into investments as expenses outpaced revenues for years on end.”
All the while, the unpaid bills piled up and the investment fund diminished. Director Martha Rose, who was “dumbfounded to discover” Savary had not been doing her job… for years … then fired her.
An anonymous letter from a whistleblower, sent to elected officials representing Island County and select reporters, shed light on the controversy. The writer, citing Rose’s “fiercely vindictive nature” as the need for anonymity, explained that “Ms. Rose, Ms. Savary, and the entire PTBA Board of Directors…” were “negligent in their responsibilities to the employees and the community.
Apparently, when initially confronted about the reason of the cuts, Rose bizarrely blamed state legislators who pulled government grants because they were trying to get “payback because Margaret Mary Haugen [former WA state senator] was a big supporter of Island Transit and she was the final vote to pass the Same Sex Marriage law.”
The whistleblower goes on to say, “The government grants have not changed, to my knowledge, but use of the grants have been relentlessly abused.”
The whistleblower urges a state audit to look at “all the lavish waste spent on” a new transit facility project and Rose’s “extravagant inebriated parties at the State Rodeo/Convention for herself, several employee friends, and their family” for insight into “where our grant money was squandered.”
Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-10 LD), along with fellow 10th District legislators, and Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Curtis King (R-14 LD), urged the state auditor’s office to audit Island Transit. The audit began yesterday. We await the results, and the conclusion of this bizarre Democrat blame-game.
Photo Credit: Joe Kunzler