Metro Debates FY10 Budget, Including Measure R
Tomorrow is the fourth Thursday of the month, and that means it’s time for another packed agenda for another Metro Board agenda. The agenda is dominated by the adoption of Metro’s FY10 Budget and various side items such as the next chapter in the controversy surrounding Ansaldo-Breda rail car suppliers.
The"big-ticket" item tomorrow should be the debate over next year’s budget. Last week we discussed how the budget proposes a 120,000 cut in service hours in bus operations, just a year after the Metro Board bent over backwards to avoid any sort of cuts.
Unlike last week, we can now see how Metro is planning to spend the first of its 30 years of Measure R funds on page 13 of the budget. In its first year, Measure R is projected to put aside over $100 million dollars for projects in future years. For example, it is "saving" over three times as much money in its highway expansion coffers than it is spending. On the highway side, Metro is socking away $54 million in funds and spending only $16 million, over three-quarters of which will be spent on sound walls.
On the rail expansion side, by far the most money will be spent on Phase II of the Expo Line. The current budget draft has Metro spending $71 million on rail expansion, with $61 million going towards Expo Phase II. However, a motion by Director Antonovich would take the $27 million that staff was planning to save and directing it towards the Gold Line Foothill Extension. While our friends at I Will Ride are pretty excited about this proposal, its bound to be one of the most controversial agenda items.
Ansaldo-Breda appearing on the agenda guarantees a strong turnout from organized labor as they did last month. Generally, I consider the controversy about whether or not to "extend the expiration of the option, exercising the option, or allowing expiration of Contract No. P2550 with AnsaldoBreda S.p.A. for 100
additional light rail vehicles" as the Board puts it is outside of my area, but since the union presence could dominate the meeting, I thought it only fair to give warning.
Of course, there are always surprises from activists and the board at meetings with agendas this long and complex. We’ll have a full report tomorrow after the meeting.