As the MBTA looks to privatize its fare collection and cash handling operation, the plan is drawing fire from T employees who could lose their jobs in a private takeover.

The MBTA's managers and the Fiscal Management and Control Board got an earful Monday from T employees dead set against a plan to privatize fare collection systems.

"For the life of me, I can't understand why this board would want an outside company counting our money," said Patrick Coughlan, who works in the Charlestown "money room" where fares are collected and counted. "You'll be bringing in workers making a lower wage with much less dedication to the company. The quality of the workers is bound to decrease."

Coughlan was joined at the board meeting by four other fare collection workers, mostly promoted former bus drivers, who told the board that they've worked hard for the plum job at the money room.

"And if we're here to talk about cost savings, is there hard evidence that firing our members and replacing them with private employees will save money?" Carmen’s Union President Jimmy O’Brien asked during his remarks to the board. "Are we to believe that privatizers who will pay their workers lower wages so they can turn a profit will match the professionalism and efficiency of our members?"

"The current review of cash handling has identified a series of issues including variances in how much money our machines report collecting and how much has been deposited in the money room," said MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve, before a presentation on the state of the agency's cash collection system. "We're fully aware this is not a new issue. The cash operations have long been a source of problems at the MBTA,"

Shortsleeve said reforms following a 2011 audit that found several problems with the automated fare collection system solved some problems but didn't correct major deficiencies with how the T controls millions of dollars in cash revenue.

"While we can't yet fully explain past decisions or actions, what I can tell you is that this team is fully committed to putting new resources into the money room immediately to establish controls and bring industry best practices to the table," he said.

Shortsleeve wants to let private companies bring best-practices to the T to "find third parties in areas like this that specialize. That could help us potentially provide these services in more efficient and safe ways and and often at a lower cost."

The Control Board will hear proposals from companies before deciding whether to go forward with the plan to privatize the fare-collection system.