Muni’s outside costs assailed by officials 

A study to be released next month details how the Municipal Transportation Agency can save $2 million in contracting from other city departments, billing that’s again raising fire from lawmakers.

The MTA, which operates Muni, is projected to spend $67.7 million this year — roughly 9 percent of the agency’s $768.6 million budget — on work orders. The work orders are contracts for services with fellow city departments, such as the police, public health and 311 phone service. The services can include technical support, security and consulting.

The MTA, which is facing a midyear budget deficit of $16.9 million that must be reconciled by June 30, is projected to spend $12.2 million this year in services performed by the San Francisco Police Department, $8.5 million on the Department of Telecommunications and $6.9 million on the General Services Agency, which operates 311. Other big work-order charges include $13 million for the City Attorney’s Office, $6.4 million for the Real Estate Division of Administration Services and $5.7 million for the Public Utilities Commission.

Next month, the Controller’s Office is scheduled to deliver a report on the MTA’s work orders, detailing each city department’s reimbursement request, how much the MTA pays each department, and if the payment can be modified. The goal of the report is to come up with a $2 million reduction in the MTA’s work-order budget.

With a $53 million budget shortfall looming next fiscal year (which begins July 1), several members of the Board of Supervisors are urging city departments to cut down on work-order requests from the MTA, which has proposed massive service reductions and entered into intense labor negotiations to help alleviate its budget woes.

Supervisor David Campos, speaking earlier this month in the Rules Committee, said the MTA should turn its focus from labor negotiations to reducing work orders.

“We still have over $60 million worth of work orders,” said Campos. “Money that is budgeted for Muni is being used for things that may or may not have to do with public transportation. Those things have to be addressed.”

Last March, Supervisor Bevan Dufty sponsored a hearing, with the aim at getting city departments to cut back their work-order requests from the perennially cash-strapped MTA. He said that the MTA’s work orders could be cut back to The City’s 311 information system, especially since many Muni riders use 511, a regional information provider which does not cost San Francisco anything to support.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said the board and the Mayor’s Office need to “show a little resolve,” to cut into the work orders, although he conceded that the spending cuts “would not be a panacea for the MTA’s budget.”

On Feb. 26, the MTA’s Board of Directors will vote on the agency’s amended budget to make up the $16.9 million shortfall. If passed, the Board of Supervisors will have 30 days to approve or reject the document.

MTA’s contracts for services

Work-order costs for services the Municipal Transportation Agency is billed by other San Francisco city departments, by department total for fiscal year 2009-10:

City Attorney: $13.0 million
Controllers’ Office: $1.8 million
District Attorney’s Office: $26,111
Department of Building Inspection: $43,257
Department of Human Resources: $2.4 million
Department of Human Services: $821,990
Department of Public Health: $268,000
Department of Public Works: $1.8 million
Department of Telecommunications: $8.5 million
Department of the Environment: $19,308
General Services Administration: $6.9 million
Human Rights Commission: $244,140
Mayor’s Office: $421,066
Department of Parking and Traffic: $138,810
Office of Contract Administration: $422,000
Police Department: $12.2 million
Public Utilities Commission: $5.7 million
Purchasing Department: $3.5 million
Real Estate Division: $6.4 million
Risk Manager’s Office: $2.2 million
SF General Hospital: $320,000
Tax Collector’s Office: $375,000
Total: $67.7 million

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Will Reisman

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