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The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has proposed a fiscal-year 2014 budget that will avoid a previously projected 25-cent fare increase as part of a five-year strategy to stabilize the agency's finances, agency officials announced late last week.The draft budget allocates $427 million for operations and $430.5 million for capital programs, including $141.1 million for debt service. The budget is a "road map" for transforming the agency into long-term fiscal sustainability by implementing efficiencies, making the system more attractive to riders and positioning it for future growth, MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker said in a press release.Budget highlights include a one-time incentive payment for MARTA employees who have not received a raise for eight years. In order to achieve a balanced budget and shore up reserves, incremental fare increases of 15 cents, 10 cents and 10 cents are possible between fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2018, respectively, if necessary, agency officials said.The budget also anticipates "significant cost savings, health-care reforms and outsourcing opportunities" that consulting firm KPMG had recommended to make the transit system more efficient.The agency will hold public hearings May 14 and May 16 on the budget proposals.
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