SC treasurer questions DOT's cash flow issues

COLUMBIA (WACH)--State Treasurer Curtis Loftis questioned the Department of Transportation's financial problems and transparency Thursday during a Budget and Control Board meeting.

"Not once has this agency been forthcoming with useable information. Not once," said Loftis during the meeting. "Maybe it will change, I don't have much say, I know one thing the state treasurer can't do much about it."

Loftis has been a vocal critic of an agency under review for failing to pay contractors and construction loans this summer.

The Treasurer requested that DOT leaders come before the Budget and Control Board to explain how the cabinet level agency had a cash shortfall which resulted in the failure to pay those bills on time, in addition to the DOT needing a $52 million bailout from the federal government.

In August, roughly $24 million in road resurfacing and paving projects across 18 counties were put on hold due to cash flow problems.

"People are mad about their roads, they're mad about their bridges and they're mad about their tax dollars. The people don't like it," said Loftis.

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Last month, agency director Robert St. Onge said the department experienced a significant backlog problem and that despite bad timing the work is getting done.

During Thursday's meeting, St. Onge, who was appointed to his post by Gov. Nikki Haley in January, admitted he did not know how much money his agency owes. However,he offered reassurances to the board that steps are being taken to reorganize the agency.

Earlier this week, St. Onge replaced the DOT's top finanical officer, after a months-long inquiry into the agency's financial issues.

"We've looked at organization. I established a task force to look at the organizational design," St. Onge told the board. "I've sought advice and assistance from a number of other state agencies.

Despite those efforts, Loftis is asking state lawmakers to " take action to cure DOT's problems" and warns that if the DOT does not pay their bills it will impact the state's credit rating.

Are you concerned about the DOT's situation, or are you confident the agency's reorganization efforts will help remedy the department's cash flow issues?