Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New York MTA still faces fiscal woes, state comptroller says

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New York State’s legislature recently passed legislation closing a two-year, $5 billion operating budget gap, but according to a report released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, longer-term financing support remains problematic.

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The report says budget gaps in calendar years 2009 and 2010 are relatively small, though budget risks could make balancing the budget more difficult. Moreover, budget woes in successive years could once again become severe, DiNapoli said.

“An unprecedented increase in state assistance will stabilize the MTA’s operating budget and could help fund the next capital program, but the MTA is not fully out of the woods yet,” DiNapoli said. “The MTA has to deliver on its promise to reduce costs. I’m also concerned that the next five-year capital plan may rely too heavily on debt, which would divert resources from operating needs, just as heavy borrowing in the past has contributed to the MTA’s current fiscal crisis.”

The comptroller announced three new audits of the MTA in addition to two MTA audits already under way, continuing his review of the MTA’s financial operations. The audits include: examining the authority’s cashmanagement controls and its banking services and fees; reviewing the efficiency of the MTA’s maintenance program; and examining the costs and timeliness of the MTA’s capital program.