Uncertainty of state funding leaves SFMTA with budget questions 

While its budget forecast for the upcoming fiscal year is getting rosier, the status of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s current deficit — which was already supposed to have been cleared — has become more muddled, due to uncertainty in the deliverance of state funding.

Due to a recent $36 million funding injection from the state, the SFMTA, which operates Muni, had plans to use $17 million of that source to plug its budget deficit for this fiscal year, which ends June 30. By using that $17 million, the agency was able to stave off proposed Fast Pass fare increases on its Cable Car and Express lines, and scale back a 10 percent reduction in service.

However, the agency learned from an independent auditor Tuesday that it’s unlikely it will receive the $36 million in time to use for this fiscal year. As a result, the agency is still facing a $12 million hole, despite approving a budget package in February that was supposed to wipe out a then-$12.2 million shortfall.

Although the $36 million can’t be used for this fiscal year, the SFMTA can apply it to the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The agency had already planned on using $19 million from that total to help plug its projected upcoming budget deficit, but by using the full $36 million, the SFMTA’s shortfall for the 2010-11 Fiscal Year would be a mere $2 million.

The agency must submit a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year by May 1. However, before the SFMTA does that, it needs to figure out its budget problems for the current fiscal year.


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Will Reisman

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