State audit of transit agency reveals few surprises

St. Louis, MO – Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee released a long-awaited review of the transit agency Metro Tuesday.

It focused mainly on the eight-mile extension of the MetroLink light rail system that opened two years ago.

Montee said Metro's former managers requested construction bids too early, and that's partly why the project went $136 million over budget.

"Part of the problem was that the design wasn't complete when the bids went out," Montee said.

She also criticized the $250,000 severance package paid to former Metro president Larry Salci, who left in December.

The new president, Bob Baer, said he agrees with many of the audit's findings, but he also said the review does not indicate a culture of mismanagement at the agency.

"There is, in my judgment, a perception that there is fiscal mismanagement at Metro. That is not the case," Baer said. "We are well managed. Our financial systems are in place. There is no lack of internal controls."

Baer is urging voters in St. Louis County to approve a half cent sales tax increase for Metro in November.

It would be used for operations and future MetroLink expansion.