Group asks for change in CATS leadership

Edgar Cage of Together Baton Rouge addresses a crowd about the group's disappointment in the CATS leadership.
Edgar Cage of Together Baton Rouge addresses a crowd about the group's disappointment in the CATS leadership.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An investigation is underway to see if the Capital Area Transit System is missing over a million dollars in fares collected over the last three years.

CATS, as it's commonly referred to, is the city-parish's public bus system.

Interim CEO Bob Mirabito says they could be looking at a case of theft or computer error, or both.

Mirabito released three years worth of figures detailing the variances between money on hand, and the reports for CATS fare boxes.

Sometimes the differences fall within the normal range expected for error. Other times the differences can be in the thousands and one month, April 2013, the difference was $10,955.

Mirabito says either combination of outdated hardware and software led to the errors or someone is stealing money.

"We are trying to get to the bottom of where the problem lies," Mirabito said.

"Once we find where the problem is - we're going to fix it, if that means going to the authorities or going back to the vendors that make the software or hardware."

Mirabito says past administrations knew of the problem, but did little to solve it.

Together Baton Rouge is a community group that fought to persuade voters to approve a tax which was meant to fund and improve the bus system.

Members of that group now say they do not have confidence in the current leadership of the CATS Board of Directors.

"We feel that our creditability is on the line," said Reverend Lee Wesley, a founding member of Together Baton Rouge.

"We made a commitment to the people of East Baton Rouge parish as to what the transit system would offer. We want to have the integrity that we need to have to stand up and say, it's not happening and we want to make sure it does."

Together Baton Rouge cited recent problems at CATS, including a board member accused of using public funds to pay for personal expenses.

That board member, Montrell McCaleb, denied wrong doing but resigned from the board for what he called "health reasons."

Mirabito has asked state auditors to look into the possible misuse of funds by McCaleb.

"Everyday there's seems to be something new- but I'm up to the challenge," Mirabito said.

"This is what I was hired for. The fact is, if we have problems we need to take care of them."

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