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Agency Wants Proof Before Funds Are OKd

March 28, 2000

SANTA ANA — Orange County's transportation agency Monday said no to giving extra ride-share money to the Southern California Assn. of Governments until the regional planning agency documents that it is financially stable.

Six Southern California counties pay SCAG to promote ride-sharing, the use of fuel-efficient buses and other ways to keep air clean in the region.

The Orange County Transportation Authority had been asked to pay $72,000 in ride-share costs above the $450,000 budgeted for this year, to pay for "higher staffing and support costs."

But SCAG, responsible for transportation planning for 16 million residents in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Riverside and Imperial counties, has been under scrutiny since last October when an examination turned up widespread financial, accounting and contracting problems.

"I'm not voting to give SCAG one dime more until I know they have a strategic financial plan in place that has been approved by their board," transportation board member Todd Spitzer, an Orange County supervisor, said during an agency meeting Monday.

Spitzer said he was concerned that SCAG is turning to local agencies to make up a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, instead of tightening its belt.

Mark Pisano, SCAG's executive director, said his agency is addressing such concerns. The additional funds requested for the ride-share program are needed for expanded services, not to make up other budget shortfalls, he said.

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