From bad to worse for MTA budget
The MTA's bleak budgetary outlook is worsening, though officials aren't ready to say what that means for straphangers.
The agency's $1.2 billion deficit could increase by as much as $650 million this year if three back-to-back months of record low tax revenues continue, Chief Financial Officer Gary Dellaverson said during a board presentation Monday.
It's obviously breathtaking, he said.
The MTA's taxes on real estate revenue dropped by 70 percent from last year's collection between November and January. Dellaverson attributed the plunge to the unwillingness of banks to grant loans.
But even if banks start to lend later this year, Dellaverson said total revenue could still slip by $326 million, a nearly 4 percent drop.Dellaverson called the presentation an exercise and not a budget forecast. But ridership has also started declining, with 1 million fewer trips taken in January as the city experiences job losses.
MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said the agency stands by its 2009 budget that predicted a $1.2 billion deficit. The MTA is not mandated to update its budget until July.
It's way too early to talk about what would happen if revenues decline, Soffin said.
Still, Soffin said the agency's fiscal health will continue to sour with the economic decline, and appealed to state lawmakers to adopt new sources of revenue outlined in the Ravitch Commission proposal. The plan specifies a payroll tax and tolls on East and Harlem river bridges.
People need to realize we have a big problem, said board member Jeff Kay. We need Albany to act to provide a new stable source of funding.