The MTA’s Woes (and Thus Our Woes) Continue
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s revenue projections are suddenly running $200 million below what was expected, while the agency is coping with $143 million in cuts in state financing, agency officials said on Monday.
It was unclear what the darkening financial picture would mean for subway and bus passengers. A spokesman for the authority said that the chairman, Jay H. Walder, was not contemplating a fare increase for 2010.
The $200 million was to have come from a payroll tax for transit that was part of the authority’s rescue package, which the Legislature approved in May. On Monday, the agency’s chief financial officer, Gary Dellaverson, called the transit tax situation “a shocking development, both because of the magnitude of the underrun (about 20 percent) and the late date of its discovery.”
The authority’s board is scheduled to approve the final version of its 2010 budget next week. The authority is required to have a balanced budget.
Mr. Dellaverson, whose comments, made in an e-mail message to board members, were distributed by an agency spokesman, said the sudden shortfall “will make our budget adoption next week quite challenging.”
The 2010 budget that will be presented to the authority’s Finance Committee on Monday, and the full board on Wednesday, “will require very difficult choices,” Mr. Dellaverson said.
He said the transit tax shortfall was a last-minute development. “As recently as last week,” he wrote in the e-mail message, “the state was continuing to advise us of their comfort with the forecast.”
Mr. Dellaverson said it was too late in the year to cover such losses. He said the agency would “roll this problem into 2010” with “cash management actions like delaying pension payments and other timing variances.”
Matt Anderson, a spokesman for the state budget division, said it was “premature at this point” to determine whether the lower-than-expected transit tax figures were “simply related to timing and compliance, rather than broader economic factors.”
“During a period of unprecedented fiscal crisis that is affecting all levels of government,” Mr. Anderson said, “the M.T.A., like the state, must prudently manage reductions in available resources. Moreover, it is important to note that these reductions are within the context of an overall M.T.A. operating budget that totals more than $10 billion.”
The payroll tax was agreed to in May, the same month in which the cost of a single subway or bus ride rose to $2.25, from $2. That increase was 25 cents less than the board had approved in March before the rescue package.
From The New York Times.