North Fork Area Transit says it will 'cease operations' barring new financial support
NORFOLK, Neb. -- A northeast Nebraska transit operation will be ceasing operations this week due to a shortage of funds.
North Fork Area Transit made the announcement Thursday that all of its services would be suspended effective Friday at 6:00 p.m.
The organization said it will continue to look for sponsors to help keep it operational, but barring new financial support, all of its ride services would no longer be offered. That includes ForkLift, Telelift, NiteLift and Trippers.
"It has been a pleasure serving you," the organization said in a Facebook post. "With great support from our community we hope this is temporary."
The suspension of services comes as authorities continue to search for former general manager Jeffrey Stewart, who is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars on a company-issued credit card.
Initial court documents stated that Stewart was accused of embezzling approximately $740,000, though documents in a recent search warrant estimate that Stewart made a total of $750,000 to $1,000,000 worth of unauthorized transactions.
Court documents allege that Stewart used a company credit card for flights, purchases at casinos, meals at area restaurants, home goods, podcast services and more. His card has since been frozen.
Last month, the Norfolk City Council met in an emergency session to discuss paying $88,155.59 to North Fork Area Transit in order to make payroll.
According to North Fork Area Transit’s legal counsel, there was no cash on hand to handle financial obligations, in this case, payroll. The payroll was due the day the emergency meeting was held, requiring city funding to meet their needs.
The Madison County Commissioners said during their December meeting that they would perform an audit on North Fork Area Transit in 2023 before making a decision on any future relationships with the transit operation. The topic was not up for discussion during Wednesday's most recent commissioners' meeting.
The North Fork Area Transit Board of Directors announced last month that it would be "reviewing operations, systems, and management of all services," while noting that it would be "engaging outside assistance for a financial audit and operations/management assistance from the Nebraska State Mobility Management Team."