TRIMET NEWS REPORTS FULL STATEMENT HERE!
As we begin preparation of next year's budget, I wish I could paint a picture of restoration of service and growth, but I cannot. When you look at the projections, it appears now that it will be another four - five years before we reach pre-recession levels of employment in our region. That's news none of us wants to hear.
Translation-We are fucked!
Although the FY12 budget plan does not currently include any major service cuts or across-the-board cuts, we will keep a close eye on economic trends and must be prepared to make adjustments if necessary. The budget also assumes a sustainable health care benefit structure as reflected in TriMet's union contract proposal. If these benefit changes are not made, we are looking at another $10 million in cuts in the coming fiscal year.
This "status quo" budget means any proposed new expenditures or areas where services may need to be restored must come from reallocation of existing funds. When making these final budget decisions, I will keep four priorities in mind:
Translation-WE ARE REALLY FUCKED!
* Implementing the Safety and Service Excellence Task Force and K&J Assessment
Recommendations. Work is already under way to begin implementation of a bus operator recertification program this year and suggestions for additional safety investments are at the top of my list.
* Purchasing new buses to reduce the age of the bus fleet. Even though the ballot measure failed, we still need to replace part of our seriously out-of-date fleet. In the coming fiscal year, we will receive 55 grant-funded buses and then plan to purchase 40 buses per year with payroll tax backed bonds.
* Advancing work on the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Line (PMLR). Although no TriMet dollars will be allocated to PMLR until 2013, the federally funded work needs to continue to ensure a 2015 completion.
* Providing a sustainable healthcare benefit structure. Health care reform is both a national and local issue. With TriMet's health care costs increasing eight percent per year, it is essential we find a way to provide high quality coverage that aligns with other public agencies and strikes the appropriate levels of cost-sharing between TriMet and employees, and our retirees.
TRANSLATION-we are fucked so bad it might be time to start looking for work waiting tables or delivering pizza's, two distinctly American career growth opportunities.