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The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) board last week approved a $557.9 million operating budget and $599 million capital budget for fiscal-year 2021.
MARTA’s state-of-good-repair capital budget includes over $200 million for rail improvement projects, including $62 million for station rehabilitation projects. The program also includes funds for track renovation work, elevator and escalator rehabilitation, tunnel ventilation work, train control system upgrades and new rail car installments.
MARTA will advance its 2040 expansion plan by conducting alignment work on the Campbellton Corridor and Streetcar East Extension projects, and starting the procurement process for a formal design team to oversee reconstruction of Five Points Station.
The operating budget includes a 3 percent raise for almost 3,000 employees, and a $20 million contingency fund to pay for any COVID 19-related expenses over the next year, such as emergency employee sick leave and more personal protection equipment.
MARTA's budget also calls for the suspension of merit increases for non-represented employees, elimination of vacant positions and reduced overtime.
“MARTA acted quickly to tighten its belt when the pandemic hit, allowing us to remain fully staffed and operational,” MARTA Board Chair Freda Hardage said in a press release. “Years of sound fiscal decisions, combined with a strong three quarters of fiscal 2019 have allowed us to not only weather this fourth quarter but to make good on our promise to taxpayers eager for current system upgrades and expansion of service and amenities.”
In May, MARTA received $298.6 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The authority used $83 million to shore up COVID 19-related losses in 2020, has earmarked $150 million of those funds for FY2021, and held $65.6 million for FY2022, MARTA officials said.
Any surplus will be placed in a sales tax reserve, which is expected to reach $272.5 million at the end of FY2021. These reserves will help offset potential deficits through 2025, officials said.