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Tacoma: Records detail Mountain Division’s operating losses, audit problems

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on July 10, 2011 at 6:01 am with No Comments »
July 10, 2011 7:20 am

As we reported in today’s newspaper,  Tacoma Rail has been operating the Mountain Division railroad on behalf of the city for the past two years with no formal operating agreement in place.

Over the same time, an agreed-upon ownership transfer of the railroad — from the city’s general government to TPU’s Tacoma Rail — has also languished without resolution.

Now, some Tacoma City Council and Public Utilities Board members are wondering why it has taken so long to resolve the issues.  During a recent joint study session of the council and utilities board, Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson explained two unfinished audits being undertaken by the city are partly to blame for the delays.

Once hailed as a potential tourist boon for a proposed “Train to the Mountain” that never materialized, the city’s 132-mile railroad today is a money-losing operation that costs Tacoma more than $1 million per year, according to TPU.

Here are additional records from the City and TPU, obtained under public records requests,  that detail the Mountain Division’s audit problems and operational costs:

1. Moss Adams letter to City concerning audit problems

2. Mountain Division operational expenses, per Tacoma Rail’s accounting

3. Tacoma Rail’s PowerPoint on Mountain Division history and finances

4. Mountain Division Payroll Summary, 2004-2009

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