RTA Board of Directors Approves 2015 Regional Transit Budget Funding Amounts
September 12, 2014
Chicago – The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors today approved the budgetary funding amounts to be allocated to CTA, Metra and Pace for their 2015 operating budgets. On the whole, the approved amounts of nearly $1.5 billion represent a 9.2% increase in operations funding over 2014 amounts. Regionalfundsfrom salestax,state Public Transportation Fund (PTF),and Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) areprojectedtoincrease, allowing for this growth.
Today’s passage of what is commonly known as the “budget marks,” in advance of anticipated full budget passage in December, is a milestone, not in so much as its passage but in the manner in which agreement was achieved. CTA President Forrest Claypool; Metra CEO Don Orseno; Metra Board Chairman Martin Oberman; and Pace Executive Director Thomas J. (T.J.) Ross all attended the meeting and spoke to the Board. Each agency head praised the collaborative effort put forth by the respective finance teams as well as the executive and board leadership from RTA, CTA, Metra and Pace to reach consensus on the 2015 funding marks.
“As the incoming Chairman of the RTA, this is my first budget process, and I approached it as I would have trying to achieve consensus on a piece of controversial legislation in my time as a state senator, “says RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard. “I reached across the aisle, as it were, and listened to the needs of the Service Boards, without yielding any territory in terms of RTA’s regional transit oversight. I think today’s actions, and the comments made by the transit CEO’s and board chairs, shows the strategy worked. Ultimately, the region’s transit riders will benefit.”
The key elements of the package approved today are:
Funds from Public Transportation Fund 1 and 15% of a sales tax fund are separated and divided among all of the Service Boards. In years past, Metra had not received funds from either of these sources; in the 2015 budget, Metra will receive a portion of the surplus sales tax funds.
Metra receives funds from the RTA Fund Balance, the restoration of which will be suspended. Each Service Board will be responsible for maintaining its own fund balance to handle unforeseen shortfalls in funding should they arise. In addition, the RTA will request a review by an independent public auditor of the RTA’s funding of the Service Boards and request a recommendation to assist the RTA in developing a new policy on fund balances for 2016 and going forward.
RTA dollars in the form of Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) funds will be allocated to each Service Board through the budget process utilizing a split of 48% for CTA, 39% for Metra and 13% for Pace.
Finally, as it did in 2014, the RTA will issue $100 million in bonds for Service Board capital funding in 2015 and continue to issue to its full statutory bonding capacity in subsequent years.
The region’s entire transit budget is expected to be voted on at an RTA Board of Directors meeting in December.