BART budget plan on hold 

Troubled by the possibility of employee layoffs, BART’s board of directors delayed approving a financing package Thursday that would plug a midyear deficit of $25.2 million.

The transit agency’s staff had proposed eliminating 74 positions — which would result in as many as 19 people losing jobs — to help save $6 million in labor and nonlabor costs. The rest of the deficit would be made up by redirecting $19.2 million in federal funding originally intended to go toward shoring up BART’s capital projects, which are forecast to be underfunded by $7.5 billion over the next 25 years.

Beset by dwindling sales tax returns — which caused the agency to lose $32 million last calendar year — BART staff had hoped to resolve the midyear deficit on Thursday to help shift focus to a preliminary budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

However, after hearing testimony from various employees who were set to be laid off, the nine-person BART board delayed making any decisions on the midyear budget until the next full board meeting on Jan. 28.

In the interim, the board instructed BART staff members to come up with any potential funding sources that might avoid layoffs. BART board President James Fang raised the possibility of reintroducing a 10-cent surcharge for Transbay Terminal service as a revenue measure. That idea was met with stern opposition from several BART board members, who said they would not support a fare increase after similar measures went into effect in July.

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Will Reisman

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