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Castelli Blasts MTA After Audit Uncovers Abuses

A forensic audit of the MTA’s Metro-North Railroad by the state comptroller’s office has uncovered numerous examples of overtime abuse and payroll manipulation prompting Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge) to call for firings at the agency and warn that the state’s transportation budget could be derailed.

Castelli represents the 89th Assembly District, which includes Lewisboro and Pound Ridge.

“This is a gross betrayal of the public trust and I believe the individuals involved should be terminated immediately,” Castelli said. “Pension and salary padding are unacceptable and it is this type of behavior which has caused the state’s transportation costs to skyrocket in recent years.”

Since being elected, Castelli has called for a systematic audit of the MTA. He said he remains hopeful that further audits of other MTA operations will help reduce costs and mandate that future transportation funding will be used only for essential capital projects and other improvements.

“The current economic crisis has left the state hard-pressed to find additional funding to provide for the region’s growing transportation needs,” he said. “To ensure that commuters get the most out of mass-transit services, to avoid toll and fare increases, and eliminate the need for the MTA payroll tax, the state must do more to put an end to overtime abuse, waste, and fraud.”

Castelli had praise for state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for exposing the fraud and said he supported the comptroller’s recommendations to help reform the MTA.

In his audit report, DiNapoli recommended that MTA management stop unnecessary overtime pay by rearranging signal workers’ schedules; end the practice of supervisors signing their own attendance records; discontinue improper payments to all employees and recover improperly paid funds, and clarify and communicate which employees are entitled to compensation for hours of service, and which are not.

“MTA management has tolerated a manipulation of the system by both supervisors and workers who have enjoyed the perks of having a daytime shift for jobs that need to be done at nights and on weekends,” DiNapoli said. “In 2010, in one 30-member unit at Metro North, over $1 million was paid out for avoidable overtime and rest shifts. Federal laws implemented to protect riders were exploited to enrich employees at the expense of taxpayers. There's no place for this type of abuse in New York.”

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