Mayor calls for regular updates on payments to RTG after confusion over September cheque
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is calling on the city manager to provide frequent updates to council on payments being made to Rideau Transit Group, the consortium contracted to manage and maintain the problem-plagued LRT system.
In a tweet Monday, Watson said he asked Steve Kanellakos to bring quarterly updates to City Council and the Transit Commission about how RTG is being compensated.
"As you know, there has been some confusion recently around payments made and owing to RTG by the City of Ottawa," Watson said. "To ensure all Members of Council and the Transit Commission are updated on this issue on a timely basis, I would ask that you provide an update on payments made to RTG on a quarterly basis as part of the Quarterly Confederation Line update."
RTG was paid approximately $4.5 million for September service, following the launch of the Confederation Line. Payments for subsequent months were withheld after several recurring issues plagued the $2.1-billion light rail system.
In an email to CTV News Jan. 22, which was reported on during the CTV News at Six, Director of Transit Operations Troy Charter said the City was following the contract.
"The City is following the terms set out in the Project Agreement in relation to maintenance period payments for RTG/RTM," Charter said. "The contract required a payment for September; however, subsequent deductions and adjustments based on contractual performance metrics have resulted in no maintenance payments for October and November. Monthly payments are in the range of $4M- $5M and payments are being administered per the Project Agreement requirements."
Councillors and transit commissioners say they’ve been left in the dark regarding how much money has been given to RTG.
Coun. Scott Moffatt shared a memo, sent by the city manager Saturday.
At issue, statements made by City Staff, including OC Transpo General Manager John Manconi, regarding payments made to RTG.
At the Nov. 6, 2019 Council meeting, Manconi said RTG had not been paid "a dime for their operations."
Kanellakos said the payment to RTG for September 2019 service was made in November.
"Subsequent to the September invoice, the October invoice included performance deductions that accumulated during the month of September and the November invoice included performance deductions that accumulated during the month of October," Kannellakos said. "As the performance deductions lag the invoice period by a month, RTG is effectively a month behind in its eligible payments and will be required to sustain a high level of performance for at least a month to eliminate this backlog of accumulated deductions."
Kanellakos said, as of Saturday, the performance deductions for November and December are still under review.
In his note to Kanellakos Monday, Watson said he also wanted to hear a fulsome explanation for why RTG was paid for August and September.
"I would ask that you provide Members of Council and the Transit Commission with a comprehensive overview of the of the City’s rationale for providing payments to RTG in both August and September of 2019," Watson said. "It would be beneficial for Members and Commissioners to have a clear understanding of what in the Project Agreement made these payments necessary. This comprehensive update should be provided to Members of Council and the Transit Commission before the end of the week."
City Council meets Wednesday. The Transit Commission is scheduled to meet Feb. 19.