MTA still facing shortfall, looking for revenue 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s budget is healthier than it was last year, but agency officials are still in the position where they will have to consider revenue generators — such as an increase to parking citations — in an effort to close a projected budget shortfall.

The good news for Muni riders, however, is that the MTA officials say they are not considering service reductions or fare increases to close the agency’s projected shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, which is estimated to be $15.1 million. Last year at this time the MTA board of directors was faced with a shortfall of about $60 million.

"We have made a commitment walking into this budget that the gap would not be closed by any service reductions or fare increases and we held to that," MTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford told the MTA board Tuesday during a budget presentation. Ford was hired as MTA’s executive director one year ago.

Ford said it was important to "manage the agency within the resources that we currently receive."

MTA is facing $692.9 million in expenses during the upcoming fiscal year and only $677.8 million in revenue.

"Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to refine the process and close the gap between our projected revenues and expenditures," Ford said.

Measures to close the gap were only lightly touched upon before the MTA board on Tuesday. Ideas included increases to parking garage and lot rates, parking meter rates and shipping and handling charges for purchases of parking cards and passes via the Internet.

A $5 increase across the board on citations would generate $4 million in revenue annually, while a $5 increase in parking citations for just street sweeping citations would raise $2 million annually, according to Sonali Bose, MTA chief financial officer.

Also under consideration to boost revenue is increasing the charge of meters in the so-called Zone 3, which are mixed residential and commercial areas. Raising the meter charge in these areas from $1.50 to $2 would generate between $4.5 million and $5 million, Bose said.

Anticipating resistance from the Board of Supervisors — supervisors have to approve the MTA budget — on such increases, MTA board Vice Chairman Michael Kasolas said it was important to begin to "work with supervisors" now.

On Jan. 30, the MTA board will be presented with recommended measures to balance the budget.

E-mail Joshua Sabatini at jsabatini@examiner.com.

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