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Metra seeks public input on FY2014 budget, two-year financial plan


Metra will hold public hearings Nov. 6 and 7 on the agency's proposed $935.9 million budget for fiscal-year 2014 and 2015-16 financial plan.

The budget proposes $728.6 million for operations and $207.3 million for capital needs, but includes no fare changes and would maintain current service levels, Metra officials said in a press release.

Metra's board is scheduled to vote Nov. 15 on a final budget. If approved, operations spending would increase 1.7 percent versus the FY2013 budget, reflecting higher labor, benefits, rent and material costs, and expenses associated with maintenance and inspection requirements.

Revenue is projected to total $364.2 million, a decrease of $7 million or 1.9 percent compared with the current fiscal year's budget, because of an anticipated $8.5 million drop in fares offset by a $1.5 million increase in revenue from capital credits and leasing. Actual 2013 fare collection came in lower than the budgeted amount, Metra officials said.

The decrease in revenue and increase in expenses would result in a $19 million increase in the agency's projected total funded deficit. That increase is expected to be covered by a $15.7 million rise in sales taxes, a $1.8 million increase in a security grant and a $1.5 million reduction in fare revenue set aside for capital needs.

Overall, FY2014's proposed capital budget represents a 34 percent increase over FY2013's budgeted amount, primarily due to the Regional Transportation Authority's new bond program, which is expected to channel $45 million to Metra in 2014.

Still, the available capital funding will fall short of Metra's needs. In 2012, the agency estimated it would need $9.7 billion between 2012 and 2021 to achieve and maintain a state of good repair, agency officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/23/2013