State treasurer calls for NCDOT head to be replaced over millions in overspending

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina’s treasurer called for the governor to replace the head of the transportation department due to overspending.

State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell said the North Carolina Department of Transportation spent closed to $7 billion in the 2019 fiscal year against $5 billion in revenue.

“This overspending resulted in NCDOT, not the governor, going to the North Carolina General Assembly and requesting a bailout costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Being treated differently than every other branch of state government and not held to account requires discipline that the leadership at NCDOT has not demonstrated,” Folwell said in a release.

James H. Trogdon III has served as secretary of NCDOT since January 2017.

NCDOT has made $1.1 billion in “short-term” loans from the Highway Trust Fund. NCDOT neither sought nor received approval of the state treasurer for these loans.

Folwell said there have been no other loans from the HTF in more than 10 years.

“The lack of oversight at NCDOT is outrageous. We endorse sustainable and predictable funding for transportation projects in North Carolina,” Folwell said.

Folwell also called for the Office of State Budget and Management to take over the NCDOT’s financial management.

“I have full confidence in the subject-matter experts at the Treasurer’s Office, all of whom are from the previous administration,” said Folwell. “They’ve been warning me for over a year that NCDOT was writing checks they can’t cash. I would put these subject-matter experts up against anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

Folwell said the mismanagement is threatening the state’s “AAA” bond rating.

“We should not spend additional taxpayers’ money or put more transportation debt on the backs of North Carolina’s citizens until Governor Cooper fixes this mess.”

Cooper’s office provided CBS 17 with a statement regarding Folwell’s call to fire Trogdon:

“A financial lecture from the nation’s least effective state Treasurer, who boasts among the worst fiduciary return on investment and raised the cost of healthcare for state employees during his tenure, is not credible.

“NCDOT is continuing to complete projects across the state while working within the guidelines set by the legislature in statute and navigating unprecedented costs from historic storms and flooding and the MAP Act Settlements.”

The NCDOT also released a statement:

“Secretary Trogdon is focused on continuing to deliver critical projects in every region of the state and implementing improvements to our internal processes to continue to improve what we do for the people of this state while operating within our cash window.”

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