December 28, 2022
Recently, the North Fork Area Transit Board discovered transactions not in the best interest of the agency and took that information to the appropriate officials, in which an arrest warrant was issued. We, and the employees of North Fork Area Transit, are deeply shaken and saddened at the alleged actions of Mr. Jeff Stewart, our former Transit Manager, and are working diligently to rebuild and regain the trust of our partners and the public that he put in jeopardy.
The Board met with Mr. Stewart monthly to review financial income statements to ensure funding was spent properly. It now appears the information provided to the Board was not accurate. As with any business or organization, there is a needed level of trust between a Board and its management. Unfortunately, Mr. Stewart misreported agency information to the Board and worked quickly in the alleged theft of funds. The board acted in good faith and as soon as suspicious activity was suspected, immediate action was taken.
In addition, North Fork Area Transit is eligible for cost reimbursement from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and NDOT. Public transit operating expenses are reimbursed at 75 percent and non-operating expenses are reimbursed at 90 percent. Monthly invoices are submitted to NDOT for evaluation and payment. This system of checks and balances is stringent. Unfortunately, unbeknownst by the Board, not all eligible expenses were submitted for repayment.
The board has invested countless volunteer hours the past six years with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) Mobility Management Team developing the framework for what is in place today – North Fork Area Transit. This was completed with one goal in mind – to help Norfolk residents needing transportation options get to work, medical care, and basic needs such as shopping for groceries.
North Fork Area Transit Board welcomes the transparency of the investigation and is conducting an internal review of all its operations and processes. We care deeply about the future of public transportation in Norfolk and the surrounding area as we know many people depend on it for basic needs. We are working cooperatively with local law enforcement and reviewing all financial and agency data.
Further comment by the board will be reserved until additional facts are brought to us through the investigative process.
North Fork Area Transit Board of Directors