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Mayor indicates likelihood of paybacks for misuse by RVT grants

The city of Williamsport likely will have to pay back state Department of Transportation and/or the Federal Transit Administration money for the misuse of grants by River Valley Transit prior, the most recent audit of the transit service revealed.

Mayor Derek Slaughter, in presenting the audit report done RKL of Lancaster to City Council on Thursday said it looked likely that the city would have to pay back something due to the misallocation and misappropriation by former management of the Williamsport Bureau of Transportation.

Top management of River Valley Transit was able to override the stipulations and use operating funds for purposes other than for which they were awarded, such as grants from the State Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration, according to cause determined by auditors.

The motive and method of the misuse has not been determined; however, it covered several years, and the exact amount the city owes remains uncalculated.

Councilwoman Bonnie Katz, filling in for Councilwoman Liz Miele, chair of the city finance committee, said expenses were misappropriated, and it was going on for several years.

These transactions have occurred in prior years than 2020 during Mayor Gabriel J. Campana administration while William E. Nichols Jr. was general manager of River Valley Transit.

“We are all trying to figure how this happened to get to this state at this point,” Katz said.

“Inadequate checks and balances out of whack for years,” Councilman Adam Yoder said, adding, “this validates having a Council oversight committee.”

Slaughter said his administration was working directly with PennDOT and the federal government.

Additionally, the state attorney general’s office criminal division is said to be investigating the use of a decade of grants receivable, some of which were allegedly used for non-transportation related expenses by the prior city administration.

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