City Council audit finds JTA may have overpaid former CEO, CFO

Report suggests agency make changes to payroll system

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Transportation Authority needs more oversight, one city councilman said, after an auditor's office report released Thursday showed two of its former top managers were overpaid.

The audit said former CEO Michael Blaylock was overpaid $130,000 when he was with the agency from 2004 to 2008. The report also showed inadequate procedures in the payroll department.

"It appears that from May 2004 through June 2008, he was overpaid by more than $85,000 based on his base salary per his contract. Furthermore, he was paid $45,000 in January of 2013, which appears to be related to the deferred compensation provisions of his agreement; however, it does not appear he should have been eligible for this payment since his contract ended in September 2012 and his employment ended in December 2012. Therefore, he was not an employee in calendar year 2013," the report stated.

Councilman Bill Gulliford said the auditor's office review shows the need for review from an independent inspector general to make sure all policies and procedures are in place as they should be.

"People can get a little sloppy when folks aren't looking and aren't scrutinizing," Gulliford said. "Again, this idea of an independent inspector general is not just looking for wrongdoing, which is one of their functions, it's also looking for things that will improve efficiency or lacking good procedures."

The report also said JTA may have owed former CFO Blair Fishburn $35,000 or overpaid him $16,000 depending on the termination agreement.

The audit recommended the agency look into what actions could be taken regarding the payments. In the report, JTA questioned the findings with written responses.

Those responses said JTA relied on "sound legal analysis outside of counsel" in paying the former CEO and that the payments were "with the intent of the contract including the contractual 5 percent annual increases." Today, JTA reaffirmed its position saying, "We stand behind our detailed responses to the Council auditor's report that explains these payments." 

DOCUMENTS: JTA Payroll Audit

That's why Gulliford said a separate review should happen independently.

"It points out the need for even greater scrutiny and review," Gulliford said. "The council auditor doesn't have the budget or the time to do the in-depth review that inspector general's office can."

Gulliford says the voters will have the opportunity to make that inspector general review by voting on a referendum on the upcoming ballot.

Other issues found in the audit were:

  • Improper segregation of duties
  • Improper access rights within payroll related systems
  • Public record file maintenance issues
  • Inadequate standard operating procedures
  • Inefficiencies with the payroll processes including the number of payrolls, leave accrual, and the transfer of information between payroll related systems.