#SamTrans40: Getting the Books in Place

To celebrate SamTrans’ 40th Anniversary, we’ll be highlighting historical moments from 1976, the first year of the agency’s existence. Beginning in May 2016, the monthly series will examine a corresponding milestone that occurred four decades ago.

September 1976:

samtransbusAny good public agency—no matter if its well-established or just growing into its own—has to have its books in order. In September 1976, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans)—in just its third month of operations—set about to getting that task done.

On September 22, the SamTrans Board of Directors agreed to a $4,500 contract to have Arthur Young and Company perform a post-audit report on the transactions and financial operations of the 1976 Fiscal Year. The contract would ensure that there would be no funny-money business happening at SamTrans, and would also comply the agency with rules and regulations required by California’s Public Utilities Code. Having the accounting firm on retainer gave ever-more legitimacy to the new agency.

And it wasn’t just the Arthur Young company that would safeguard the agency from any wayward financial policies. On September 22, the SamTrans Board also adopted an agency manual outlining procedures and rules for expense accounts at the agency. The guidebook detailed what kind of documentation SamTrans employees needed to recoup their expenses. The days were gone when workers could write-off a nice expensive lunch as part of a “company outing” without any proof to the matter (although it’s not certain if those days ever really existed).

With its financial workings now under a trusted watchful eye, SamTrans turned to some more pressing issues on the ground—literally. On the same day that the Board signed its pact with Arthur Young and approved its expense account manual, the governing body agreed to a contract with Firestone to outfit its fleet of buses with new tires. The contract did not have a specific amount, but under the terms of the deal, Firestone would provide the rubber wheels to keep the SamTrans buses moving.

The contracts signed on Sept. 22, 1976, continued a trend of developments during SamTrans inaugural year, where the Board would attend to both administrative and operating matters. The two sides of the coin—operations and administrative—could not exist without each other, and the agency made sure that both facets received their necessary treatments.

 

 

 

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