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A Chance for Millions of Dollars in State Funding Comes with a Hitch: How Will it be Spent?

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Public transportation officials in Fort Worth are hoping to get millions of additional dollars in state funding to build a commuter rail line in Tarrant County.

But before they get a dime, Fort Worth City Council member Jungus Jordon wants them to be more accountable for how they spend those dollars in the future.

His response follows a CBS 11 News investigation that uncovered questionable travel expenses by public transit leaders.

"As a result of some discussions that we've had internally and with (CBS 11 News) … we need more oversight on how our transportation system is working in Tarrant County," said Jordon, a longtime leader in mass transit initiatives in North Texas.

CBS 11 first reported in September that the president and some board members for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, known as "The T," charged taxpayers at least $53,000 in questionable travel. That included a ski outing in the Rocky Mountains, a posh hotel in Florida and other fancy hotels, some as close as Dallas.

"We're going to work directly with The T to provide scrutiny, if you will, or oversight, on how taxpayer dollars are being spent …we're negotiating audit agreements," Jordon said.

The T lags far behind Dallas and Denton counties in building an $800 million commuter rail system on the west side of the Metroplex. And now it hopes to get a good portion of an additional $100 million funding to speed the project along.

But there would be strings attached.

"We we'll have an understanding with The T that we are the elected officials that will be looking  over the shoulder on how that money is spent …we're looking for quarterly reports," Jordon said, adding, "As a public official, I want to know how that money is being spent …I want to know where it's going."

The T officials, including its president, Richard Ruddell, declined to talk on camera when we went to their offices. Off camera, however, they said they were still considering Jordon's demand for stronger oversight, and will vote on the proposal next Monday.

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