Lawmaker calls for outside audit of TriMet

A TriMet ticket vending machine in Portland, May 13, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A TriMet ticket vending machine in Portland, May 13, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon lawmaker is calling for a governmental performance audit of the Portland-area’s mass-transit agency.

Questions have been raised about TriMet’s finances, operations, and transparency,” said Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale. “These questions deserve answers and the audit by the Secretary of State will provide answers.”

Rep. Gorsek has proposed amending House Bill 3316, the bill regulating TriMet’s governance, with a request for Oregon’s Secretary of State to conduct at last one performance audit on TriMet. A version of his amended bill, as published by the Portland Tribune, “Transfers duties, functions and powers of board of directors of mass transit district known as Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon to governing body of metropolitan service district known as Metro.” It also “Declares emergency, effective on passage.”

A performance audit would examine, report, and make recommendations on any significant issues identified during the audit. This includes areas such as the operational structure and practices of the district, transparency of operations and functions, and the immediate and long-term fiscal condition of the district. The emergency clause allows legislation to go into effect when passed, rather than on a later date such as Jan. 1 of the following year.

“This audit by the Secretary of State’s office will provide riders, advocates, and the legislature with needed information,” said Gorsek. “And to my knowledge it will be the first audit conducted by an outside party. I’m looking forward to reading the final report.”

The House Committee on Rules is expected to vote on the amendment “in the coming days,” according to a news release from Gorsek’s office. Gorsek is vice-chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development.

TriMet distributed its response to this bill later Thursday, saying its agency “is no stranger to audits and welcomes outside review of our business practices.”

“My staff and I will assist in any way possible,” said General Manager Neil McFarlane in a prepared statement. “We believe this will be constructive for TriMet and the community we serve.”

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