SMCo. tax losses to further cut BART, Caltrain & SamTrans funding
- Published Tuesday, March 2, 2010, by the Peninsula Daily News
Sales tax losses sap transporation funding
County and cities will receive less money
By Mike Rosenberg
Bay Area News Group
With fewer people breaking out their wallets in San Mateo County shops, the region's transportation funding is taking another hit -- this time to the tune of $1.8 million.
Measure A, the half-cent sales tax that voters renewed in 2004 to fund the county's transportation projects and will last to 2033, will trim its current budget from $26.9 million to $25.1 million.
The change comes as sales tax revenue dropped by $2.6 million, or 10 percent, from July through January compared with figures budgeted when the current fiscal year began in July. By the time the fiscal year ends, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, which administers the tax, expects the revenue to be $4.7 million less than expected.
The authority also expects to earn $2 million less than anticipated in interest from its investments, bringing the total loss to $6.7 million.
The county's cities will be the worst hit and will receive $1 million less than expected.
In addition, the authority will drop its contribution to Caltrain by $377,000, spend $189,000 less on paratransit and take away $94,000 intended for the BART San Francisco International Airport extension. Finally, a pot of funds dedicated to reducing congestion will receive $47,000 less than anticipated.
The drops in tax contributions come as many cities shift money for transportation and other capital projects to keep their budgets from collapsing and as the state eliminates all transit subsidies. BART, Caltrain and SamTrans continue to lose huge chunks of cash.
In all, the measure's sales tax proceeds and interest income for the current fiscal year are now estimated to be $65.3 million. That would be a 15 percent drop from $77.2 million in 2009 and a 24 percent plunge from $86.4 million in 2008. But the authority's spending has not changed as drastically. For instance, officials gave $13.7 million to cities two years ago, $13.9 million this year and expect to provide $13.5 million this year. The authority has also sped up funding for some capital projects.
As a result, the Measure A fund balance that was at $464 million in 2008 is expected to fall to $382 million by June.
The authority is staffed by SamTrans employees, and its governing board consists of seven elected officials in the county.