The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Board of Directors today voted unanimously to adopt a $1.407 billion budget for FY2013. News Release
The budget reflects an increase in spending of $166,700,000, or 13.4 percent over the FY2012 Budget. Spending includes $445 million for METRO's Operating Budget, $719.2 million for its capital program, $164.8 million into the General Mobility Fund, and $78.3 million dedicated for payments on METRO's bonded indebtedness.
A public hearing was held prior to consideration of the item, where METRO CEO George Greanias gave a presentation on the highlights of the budget, the third he has presented since taking the position with METRO. Listen
“Most of us remember the challenges that the board and the staff faced at METRO in 2010 as we moved into the budget,” Greanias said. “The biggest issue of course, was the controversy over the purchase of the rail cars, our issues with the Federal Transit Association about potential violations of buy American procurement policies.”
Greanias said METRO was also dealing with various lawsuits at the time of that budget.
“The Fiscal Year 2011 Budget was the budget in which we started to right the ship and address these issues,” Greanias said.
Greanias said the FY2013 Budget is “setting the path forward.”
Board members discussed at length whether to transfer money from the US 90A project, which currently has $660,000 budgeted, but is not being expended until the board can make further decisions. Board Vice Chair Dr. Allen Watson asked if some of the funding could be transferred to support the Uptown Houston District's proposed improvements to the Post Oak Corridor.
Board Member Carrin Patman asked how the board had come to considering suspension of the US90A Project, which she said had support from the constituents and Congressman Al Green.
“As recently as a couple months ago, if not sooner, I've had conversations with Congressman Green in which he assumes we're moving forward on 90A,” Patman said. Listen
Board Member Christof Spieler said that the money to build project is currently not available.
“If we don't have the money to complete the project, I don't want to spend money on planning,” Spieler said.
The board did not make a motion to transfer the money, but Greanias said that none of the cash would be spent before a committee and board decision was made. He also said he had several meetings with Congressman Green regarding issues with funding project.
Patman said she would support putting spending on the 90A project on hold, but said that it had “not fully sunk in” to stakeholders regarding the project.
The board voted unanimously to authorize Greanias to draft a letter of support for the Uptown Houston District in proposed infrastructure improvements within the Post Oak Corridor serving the uptown area.
The board voted 5-0-1, with Patman abstaining, to approve a $200,000 contract with Verizon Wireless for airtime for bus communications. The contract will provide wireless data communications for the buses.
The board voted unanimously to ratify the charter of the Strategic Planning Committee.
The board voted unanimously to approve a $3,308,000 contract with Parsons Transportation Group to continue the construction mitigation program through September 2013.
The board voted unanimously to execute contracts for election services with Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery and Waller counties.
All other items were approved by unanimous vote. Board members Burt Ballanfant, Cindy Siegel and Gary Stobb were absent. Agenda