Officials spar over grim state of MTA budget
Confusion abounded Wednesday about how bad things are for the MTA, with a war of words breaking out between the transit agency and state Senate.
“This is the same old song and dance. The MTA has been scaring people to think service cuts are coming,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democrats.
Earlier this week, MTA officials announced an unforeseen $343 million drop in revenue, the result of new taxes coming in below expectations and a cut in state aid.
But Senate Democrats contend that the tax hole will evaporate next year, when non-compliant companies get with the program. Money from businesses owned by one person was half of what was expected for the new payroll tax, and companies will likely have to pay up at income tax time, Shafran said.
But cash next year won’t help the MTA now, an agency spokesman said. The MTA must balance its 2010 budget when the agency board meets next week.
“We’re required to pass a budget based on what we have now, not what we hope to have,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.
The MTA intends to hold off on fare hikes next year, but service cuts are “certainly on the table,” Soffin said.