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PSTA earns financial reporting award

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting recognizing the transit agency’s comprehensive annual financial report. This is the second year in a row PSTA has won that award.

“Receiving this award two years in a row validates our dedication to strong financial management and transparent financial reporting,” said PSTA Chief Finance Officer Debbie Leous. “I am very proud of our entire finance department for maintaining such a strong record of accountability and good stewardship.”

PSTA was presented with the award by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada and is considered the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting.

Last year was the first year PSTA submitted a proposal to be considered for the award. That means the agency has achieved its goal every year it has applied.

The news comes as PSTA CEO Brad Miller is increasingly under fire by his board. Miller recently received his lowest performance ratings since joining the agency in 2011. Many new board members gave him below satisfactory reviews while some veteran board members lowered their numeric evaluations from previous years.

At issue are several PSTA blunders under Miller’s watch. Most recently the agency came under fire for allegations of illegal recording of a grievance hearing over the telephone with a PSTA employee. A WTSP report claims there is a criminal investigation surrounding the issue. Audio recording without consent in Florida is a third-degree felony. However, PSTA’s attorneys say the agency is in the clear because the employee had no reasonable expectation of privacy. PSTA officials also confirmed with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s office that there are no pending investigations.

Last year, Miller was forced to return more than $350,000 to the Department of Homeland Security after allegations he had misused grant money intended to promote safety on buses but instead used to promote the Greenlight Pinellas transit initiative that later failed at the ballot box.

Most of the negative press surrounding Miller stems from WTSP investigative reporter Mike Deeson, who broke the DHS grant scandal. He also criticizes Miller for failing to get a $1 million grant for a transit study. The Legislature did not include the funding in the 2016 budget despite lobbying efforts by Miller and board member Janet Long.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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