MTA may vote on 2-year budget 

The tangled mess that has become the Municipal Transportation Agency’s budget process should come into much clearer focus this week.

On Tuesday, the Board of Directors of the MTA, which operates Muni, will be asked to approve a two-year budget proposal that includes a 10 percent service reduction next fiscal year, a drop in annual payments for services from other city departments by $6.5 million, the addition of 1,000 new parking meters and annual fare increases based on inflation (starting in 2011). The MTA plans to restore 5 percent of its proposed service reductions by 2011.

Also under the budget proposal: cash-paying customers at Muni Metro stations will have to purchase a one-time transit card at the cost of $2.25, incremental increases will be added to various fees and fines and free parking perks for city employees will be eliminated. To help balance its budget shortfall — which stood as high as $56 million at one point — the agency eliminated 284 positions, and is seeking $10 million more in labor concessions.

If the MTA’s board approves the budget on Tuesday, it will culminate a months-long process, but there are still likely be plenty of questions remaining about agency finances.

In February, the MTA’s board approved a series of cost-saving and revenue generating measures aimed at eliminating a $12.2 million deficit for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. However, many of the funding assumptions aimed at balancing that budget did not materialize, leaving the agency with a gaping hole.

The agency hoped to plug this year’s budget shortfall with some of the $36 million it unexpectedly received from the state last month. However, the MTA was recently informed that it could not use the money in time for this fiscal year, so it will use the entire amount in the next year, which begins July 1.

In effect, the agency could approve a balanced budget for the upcoming two fiscal year years, but still face a shortfall for this fiscal year.

Tuesday marks the first time the MTA’s Board of Directors will be asked to vote on a two-year budget. If the board does not take action, it could vote at a special meeting April 30.

The MTA must submit its balanced budget by May 1 to The City’s Board of Supervisors, who will have a month to review the document before deciding whether to wholly reject or accept the proposal.

The service reductions are tentatively set to go into effect on May 8.



MTA budget

$749.5M Proposed operating budget for 10-11 fiscal year

$768.8M Proposed operating budget for 11-12 fiscal year

Originally-projected two-year budget deficit

Projected annual savings, big ticket items:

$28.4M 10 percent service reduction*

$10M Labor concessions**

$6.5M Payments to other city departments

$3.5M Inflation-based fare increases***

$2.8M Elimination of free employee parking

*Service will be restored by 5 percent in 2011
**Still in negotiations
***Starting in 2011

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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