MTA Budget Boosts Services
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a $3-billion budget Thursday that increases bus and rail service next fiscal year without raising fares or cutting security.
The board rejected a last-minute plan by Chief Executive Roger Snoble to trim $10 million in unspecified costs from the agency’s $60-million security contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
Snoble’s proposal was directed at administrative costs, but sheriff’s officials said it could have forced the elimination of as many as 70 deputies and 40 others now providing security within the county’s transit system.
“We don’t want to do it in a way that jeopardizes riders,” said Richard Katz, a board member appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“Security’s right down there with a fare increase,” he said. “Those are the very last things that anyone would consider” cutting to balance the budget, he said.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Antonovich opposed adoption of the budget. Yaroslavsky said he believed that the budget needed major cuts. He suggested imposing a hiring freeze on nonessential personnel.
In approving the budget, MTA board members directed Snoble to identify at least $10 million in additional cuts for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and to search for ways to increase advertising and other revenue.
To balance next year’s budget, the MTA will spend nearly $130 million from its reserves, which will drop to about $60 million by the end of the next fiscal year, if current estimates hold.
The budget predicts a $20-million increase in fuel costs, including $6 million for municipal bus operators. It cuts 13 jobs and delays purchasing of 40 hybrid sedans, saving $2 million.