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Transit oversight committee created

A city Transit Oversight Committee has been created in a vote by Williamsport City Council to go into effect on Dec. 22.

The formation of the committee, lead by Councilman Adam Yoder, expands the legislative accountability of River Valley Transit and city government.

Council passed an ordinance Thursday on second reading creating the committee in a unanimous vote.

The update on the proposal added a member of the Williamsport Area Transportation Study after Yoder said he conferred with Lycoming County commissioners.

It creates a standing committee to ensure proper checks and balances are enforced, adequate oversight is performed and full compliance is achieved within River Valley Transit, he said.

Included on the committee are three members of council, appointed by the president of city council, the mayor, the city controller, and the city’s director of finance and administration when filled by Mayor Derek Slaughter.

Membership from River Valley Transit includes the general manager, chief financial officer, controller, and compliance officer. A member from the Williamsport Area Transportation Study WATS team from Lycoming County will also be a member of the committee.

Yoder concluded “I look forward to seeing this committee begin the important work of adequate oversight of River Valley Transit.

“The services this department provides to city constituents are critical to the fiscal and economic vibrancy of the City of Williamsport, and focused oversight will be critical to ensure these services continue in alignment with state, federal, and local regulations,” Yoder said.

Slaughter said he and his administration have been since he took office in January 2020 in communication and working with PennDOT and the Federal Transportation Administration to correct any deficiencies and to address continued compliance with state and federal transportation law.

River Valley Transit’s management of state and federal grant usage between 2009 and 2019 remains under a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the recent audit for 2019-20 revealed a deficit of $11 million and what appeared to be misappropriation of grants for non-transportation expenses.

“Since being sworn in last year, I have continued to advocate for and propose solutions to two consistent issues have been holding city government back from properly performing the people’s work — inadequate checks and balances in city government, and inadequate oversight of RVT by City Council,” Yoder said.

The recent RVT audit findings and RVTs recent Performance Review from the state Department of Transportation are prime examples of these results that occur from these foundational issues, Yoder said.

Council began to address the inadequacy of checks and balances last year in updating the Administrative Code to ensure checks and balances of city department leadership are in alignment with the current department structure of the executive branch.

Formation of the committee brings added oversight and focus to the ongoing operations of River Valley Transit, with potential scope including, but not limited to:

• Compliance with federal, state and local transit regulations

• Implementation of PennDOT recommendations outlined in the recent Act 44 performance review

• Oversight of development and execution of strategic planning work at River Valley Transit

• Exploration of the feasibility of regionalization opportunities for River Valley Transit

• Collaboration medium between city and county officials to address other transportation related issues and needs within the city.

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