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City records: CATS COO recently placed on unpaid leave was also suspended in 2015

Allen Smith was suspended for three days in 2015, although a reason for the suspension was not provided.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Allen Smith, the chief operating officer and deputy director of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), was recently placed on administrative leave without pay. But a review of city employment records showed he also was placed on suspension several years ago.

Records provided by the city of Charlotte showed Smith, who started work as a city employee in 2012, was suspended for three days in August 2015. However, the records do not reveal the cause of the suspension.

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The records do share that Smith's most recent suspension without pay lasted from March 9, 2023 through March 17, 2023. They also share details about his pay rate through the years.

When he was first hired by the city in November 2012, Smith was granted a $147,000 salary, which increased to just under $150,000 the next year. Before he left for another job in 2018, he earned as much as $175,100 per year.

He was re-hired in 2019, with an annual salary totaling $194,000 per year. His pay rate continued to increase, with his most recent pay rate in 2022 at $206,813.70 per year. It did not increase from his 2021 pay rate.

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Allen's suspension earlier in March 2023 came after former CATS CEO John Lewis resigned back in Oct. 2022. Charlotte's city manager Marcus Jones made the announcement in a virtual news briefing back in Oct. 2022. Jones said Lewis was leaving to take another job.

The shifts in transportation leadership come after months of staffing issues, reduced transit service, and concerns from CATS employees about the risk of violence they face while on the job.

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CATS has faced several challenges since last year. During an interview on Flashpoint with WCNC Charlotte anchor Ben Thompson in September 2022, Lewis described a staffing slump as "a roller-coaster ride", but said he was proud of employees.

Service was reduced by about 20% in August 2022 due to staffing issues.

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