Head of Regional Transit Authority questioned for expenses

Serious questions about the head of the Regional Transit Authority's spending habits have surfaced after he asked for a raise.

Since November of 2014, Michael Ford is alleged to have spent $506 a night in a luxury hotel; more than $9,000 in mileage on top of his $10,000 car allowance; and a total of $37,000 in other travel expenses.

"There is some concern that raised eyebrows with the expenses," says Mario Morrow, spokesperson for the RTA.

More than "eyebrows" for some.

Mr. Ford is the CEO of the RTA, the group that oversees Detroit's bus system, SMART, the People Mover and the Ann Arbor-area Regional Transit Authority. The RTA board met in closed session for roughly three hours Thursday morning, discussing the job performance of Ford and the travel expenses allowed under his contract.

"The Board is looking at that contract to make sure all the I's were dotted and the T's are crossed," Morrow says.

Ford wants to extend his $200,000 a year contract with a $16,000 raise. Ford was in charge during the $4.6 billion millage vote to provide a new transportation system in metro Detroit. The millage did not pass. 

"Ford was not responsible for the millage or running the millage. We had an outside agency doing that. For him to be involved in the campaign would've been a complete violation of his contract, and also of federal and state law," Morrow reassures.

Ford hasn't been accused of doing anything illegal; the issue is if his expenses were appropriate within the budget he was given.

Morrow says there are guidelines and a budget in place for travel expenses.

"Mr. Ford was under the budget; allotted was $35,000 for that period," Morrow says.

Ford's contract is up October 17, but the board must let him know his future by April. The next meeting is on March 8.


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