Seeking to head off a raid on its budget from Sacramento, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday grudgingly gave tentative approval to a transfer of $50 million in transit funds to financially strapped Los Angeles County.
Transit chief Franklin E. White was instructed to negotiate a deal with County Chief Administrative Officer Sally Reed. White said he hopes to find a way to help the county while softening the blow on bus operations and rail construction.
“That’s a start,” state Sen. Richard G. Polanco said Wednesday. The Los Angeles Democrat said he still will pursue legislation shifting $48 million a year for four years from the MTA to the county.
Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed legislation that would have transferred $375 million over five years from the MTA to the county, but said he would consider a one-time, $50-million shift.
Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre, an MTA board member, objected to the agency giving the county funds after raising bus fares.
Transit officials hope to work out a deal similar to one negotiated in Orange County. The MTA would provide funds for up to 10 years to the county--potentially adding up to a few hundred million dollars to fund health services or other county programs. In return, the MTA would receive county transit dollars, limiting its total net loss to $50 million.
“It appears it might work,” said county Supervisor Deane Dana. “The question is, what’s going to happen next year? We haven’t solved the problem.”