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RTD's Questionable Spending in the Past, And Now?

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RTD charges dinner cruise, beachfront hotel to taxpayers

February 19, 2009

By Face The State

Face the State Staff Report

According to records obtained by Face the State, the RTD board of directors spent more than $54,000 on travel in 2008, including a trip to China, nights in a beachfront hotel and a dinner cruise. Records also indicate that members avoided RTD buses and light rail, opting instead to charge taxpayers for taxi rides and airport parking. Some of the spending may be in conflict with the board’s own policies.

Amidst the recent economic downturn, RTD officials have recently implemented a salary freeze for most RTD employees, excepting General Manager Cal Marsella from the change in compensation. RTD is governed by a 15-member board of directors elected by citizens of the eight counties within the transit authority’s jurisdiction. Each board member receives a $12,000 annual salary established by the state legislature. In 2008, each board member was also allocated $10,000 for local and out of state travel.

Juanita Chacon, who represents Commerce City, Westminster, and Edgewater, used $1,627.20 of her travel allowance for a “China trip”, the details of which are not provided with her expense report (PDF). Documents provided by RTD reveal little about the trip, but Chacon did charge the district for airfare, lodging and meals. Chacon did not return calls for comment.

Noel Busck, a board member representing parts of Commerce City, Brighton, Thornton and Northglenn, attended the annual American Public Transit Association conference in San Diego last October and stayed at the beachfront Marriot Marina hotel for $328.73 a night (PDF). Barbara Brohl, who represents Denver, Edgewater and Wheat Ridge, attended the same conference and stayed at a less expensive hotel, but enjoyed a $68.50 (PDF) “dinner cruise.”

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