MYRTLE BEACH - State auditors will examine the books of the Myrtle Beach area public bus system before a decision is made on allowing the agency to repay a $325,000 debt over the next decade.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports state Transportation Department auditors will look at the failed bus shelter program of the Coast Regional Transportation Authority.

Coast received a $1 million Federal Highway Administration grant in 2005 to install more than 60 bus shelters and route signs in Horry and Georgetown counties.

But only a handful of shelters were ever put up when Coast ran into zoning issues with local municipalities and utility issues such as underground cables. Ten of the shelters were sold to the city of Myrtle Beach, some for use by the school system, which the grant did not allow.

The Grand Strand project was one of more than 500 similar projects nationwide.

In April of last year, the Highway Administration told Coast to stop the project. Last summer, the state, which administered the federal grant, said it was pulling the funding and that Coast could be liable for reimbursing some of the money. Coast asked last month if it could use advertising revenue to repay the debt.

Christy Hall, the state's acting transportation secretary, notified Coast this week she is ordering a department audit.

Julie Norton-Dew, interim CEO of Coast, said the agency will comply with the state review.

"Furthermore, Coast RTA will adhere to SCDOT requirements on all future transportation projects which support the mission of the organization," Norton-Dew said.

The former CEO of Coast, Myers Rollins Jr., was fired Wednesday. Some members of the authority's governing board pointed to the bus shelter program as one of the reasons.

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Information from: The Sun News, http://www.thesunnews.com/