Consultant to Audit WMSR

A consulting firm has been hired to conduct an operational audit of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad at the behest of the Allegany County (Maryland) Board of Commissioners.

The board took the step in the wake of the WMSR requesting a $60,000 increase in its annual funding for 2019, which the tourist railroad said is needed for tie replacement.

WMSR General Manager John Garner said the railroad will cooperate in the audit.

The board usually allocates $140,000 to the railroad, but this year the WMSR asked that its appropriation be increased to $200,000.

Stone Consulting will conduct the audit, which the firm’s vice president for operations said will focus on the WMSR’s steam program.

Randy Gustafson said this will include reviewing the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive No. 1309, which halted in late 2017 after the WMSR ran out of money.

Gustafson and Stone Consulting have reviewed several steam programs and in 2000 helped develop  a master plan for the WMSR.

“I think it’s overall good news. I’ve been surprised and pleased by the fact that everybody I know that has worked at the WMSR is encouraging this,” Gustafson said.

County officials are open to continued funding of the WMSR, but want a third-party review of what is happening there.

County Administrator Brandon Butler said he has had “numerous conversations with interested citizens, former employees and enthusiasts who are singularly dedicated to one thing — the success of the scenic railroad.”

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