Williamsport’s River Valley Transit advised not to misuse state and federal funds

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Williamsport’s River Valley Transit has been advised to not misuse state and federal dollars. This comes after allegations of misappropriating funds.

Eyewitness News first told you about an audit, performed by an independent company, in October. It showed millions of dollars were unaccounted for in the January 2019 to June 2020 fiscal year. Now PennDOT is asking the transportation department to stop spending.

“When I took over in January of 2020, I worked with PennDOT, FTA. We uncovered some discrepancies related to our state and federal transit grants,” explains Mayor Derek Slaughter

In October, a third-party auditor showed the transit department is $11 million in debt. The Attorney General has been investigating their spending since February 2020.

“I can’t speak on what they did or did not do but I know what we’re doing. And we’re doing everything we need to do,” said Mayor Slaughter.

PennDOT issued Eyewitness News a statement. It reads: “PennDOT has been providing technical assistance to the city of Williamsport to aid in the city’s grant reporting. As part of PennDOT’s assistance, PennDOT informed the city that the city can no longer use state and federal transit dollars to fund non-transit endeavors.”

Mayor Slaughter publicly released a letter from PennDOT highlighting this after residents asked about moving the city’s patrol division.

“Which to a lot of questions from the community, good questions from the community about what transpired with the former Peter Herdic Transportation Museum so we decided to let folks know hey here’s kind of what happened, here’s a letter from PennDOT. Here’s the way we can use state and federal tax dollars,” said Mayor Slaughter.

The letter outlined that these funds can’t be used for non-public transit expenditures. If misused, it may have to be paid back. Mayor Slaughter says they’re working to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“Moving forward, everything is documented correctly, all of our expenditures are eligible and we’re not doing any old ways of the past,” said Mayor Slaughter.

Williamsport’s River Valley Transit was not able to respond on Thursday, but we will bring you those updates as they’re available

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