Valley Metro Boards Vote Unanimously To Accept CEO's Resignation
The CEO of Valley Metro has resigned and been placed on administrative leave. Last Tuesday, Stephen Banta announced his departure from the Valley’s public transit agency. This followed the release of records about questionable business expenses including expensive dinners, first class flights and alcohol. The details of his separation are still being worked out.
Valley Metro’s two Boards of Directors unanimously voted to accept Banta’s resignation Thursday after three hours of deliberation. This comes two days after he had tried to rescind his decision. He wrote in a letter dated Dec. 1, “On reflection, I believe I was hurried into a resignation decision…Therefore, I am withdrawing my letter of resignation.”
Banta went on to say that officials at the City of Phoenix initially agreed to a post-employment consulting agreement that would give him full pay and benefits until the end of April 2016. But when city officials later told him they didn’t have the authority to agree to those terms, he asked to discuss the situation at Thursday’s board meeting, which he didn't show up at.
Banta said in a statement, “I regret that the great work Valley Metro has done developing a world-class regional transit system has been eclipsed by the focus on my expenses. For that, I owe our riders, the taxpayers, the Board and Valley Metro’s employees an apology.
In addition to accepting his resignation set to take effect January 2016, Valley Metro boards voted to put Banta on administrative leave, but it’s unclear if that will be paid leave. Board member and Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams said he has until Friday at noon to accept a separation agreement. She couldn’t discuss the details of that agreement.
Williams said the board is proceeding with caution because they want to avoid a lawsuit. “It could get very expensive and we are trying to bring everything under control...and save the taxpayer money where we can," she said.
The Boards will meet Monday to talk about a separation agreement. Meanwhile the City of Phoenix has already started an audit of Valley Metro’s travel and expenses.
Board member and Scottsdale City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp called for a second independent audit with recommendations for improvement.
“We need to thoroughly vet those recommendations to determine how this organization is going to move forward positively," she said.
The board voted to appoint Eric Anderson as interim CEO. He was the Transportation Director at the Maricopa Association of Governments.