New CEO of JTA fires back after audit

Audit found former CEO was overpaid by $130,000; new CEO says not the case

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is firing back after an audit found that JTA grossly overpaid its former top executive.

A letter from Nat Ford, the new CEO of JTA, to Mayor Alvin Brown said that the agency did not pay former CEO Michael Blaylock $130,000 more than he earned.

Ford said the agency strives to be financially responsible and to provide the best possible transportation solutions for the area. But a report from Jacksonville's Council Auditor's Office said otherwise.

The audit found that Blaylock was overpaid $130,000 when he was with the agency from 2004 to 2008. The report said:

"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."

Two weeks ago, City Councilman Bill Gulliford called for an independent review.

"People can get a little sloppy when folks aren't looking and aren't scrutinizing," Gulliford said on March 5. "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."

But a JTA letter to the mayor argued otherwise.

"The Authority respectfully disagrees with the Council Auditor's contention that the JTA overpaid the former CEO."

The current CEO blames the discrepancies on an "administrative error" in Blaylock's 2004 contract.

He said cost-of-living increases of 5 percent each year added up to the $85,000 on his base contract.

The remaining $45,000 in question was part of Blaylock's transition agreement, Ford wrote.

"...The employment agreement was amended and restated in the transition agreement effective March 23, 2012, to make contributions ... plus a final lump some contribution within 120 days after such term."

Ford said, the January 2013 contribution correctly met the 120-day requirement.

The audit found other issues with JTA:

  • Improper segregation of duties
  • Public record file maintenance issues
  • Inadequate standard operating procedures
  • Inefficiencies with the payroll 

Those issues weren't addressed in the letter to the mayor.

Ford wasn't available to talk about the letter Thursday, because he's tied up in workshops and a board meeting.

News4Jax attempted to contact Blaylock for his comments, but we are still waiting to hear back from him.