BART faces financial problems with $26M deficit

November 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The folks who run BART have their own set of financial problems staring them in the face next year. A new financial forecast predicts fewer riders and a fall in sales tax revenue, which means more cuts are likely coming.

BART says its budget outlook is worse than expected. It has a $26 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year and layoffs are virtually invevitable.

But one-time special funds could save 32 workers' jobs through next June.

"Buy a little more time and hope that we will take advantage of attrition, retirements and so forth to be able to minimize any impact on occupied positions -- on employees who are in positions that needs to be eliminated," said BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger.

Dugger said both ridership and sales tax revenues are down more than anticipated, but BART is trying to minimize the impact on customers.

She is not recommending more service cuts or fare hikes and the job cuts would be from the clerical and administrative ranks.

"There will still be mechanics to work on the trains, there will be operators to drive them, station agents to open up and hopefully system service and utility workers to clean the stations and clean the trains," said SEIU Local President Lisa Issler.

Difficult contract negotiations last summer ended with a deal that seemed to promise no layoffs.

The unions wondered if the contract was violated when five temporary janitors were laid off last month. But Dugger says the only promise was no layoffs due to work rule changes. The bad economy is a separate issue.

"We were very clear that we could not responsibly, in this worsening economy, give a blanket guarantee against layoffs," said Dugger.

The board will vote on the cost saving proposals in January.


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