Cap Metro to Take Comment on Budget

Spending

We at Capital Metro take seriously our mission to be open, honest and trustworthy stewards of the public’s money. 54.1 percent of our annual budget comes from our cut of the sales tax, and we’re aware that the public has the right to know what we plan to do.

Part of that effort to be transparent in every way we can is to post online our budgets for each of the past 10 years and next year’s proposed budget, too. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget will go before our board of directors on September 29, and we’re offering the public a number of chances to learn about it and offer comment. In addition to four public meetings (two in person and two online), there will be a public hearing before the board on Thursday at lunchtime. (We’ll also present about the minor changes that would go into effect in January 2018 should the board approve them.)

See below for the dates and locations of the all the meetings:

Monday, September 11

5-6 p.m.

Old Quarry Branch Library

7051 Village Center Drive

Served by Routes 19, 320, 661, 681

Tuesday, September 12

Noon-12:30 p.m.

Webinar

5-6 p.m.

Pleasant Hill Branch Library

211 E. William Cannon

Served by Routes 1, 201, 333, 801

Wednesday, September 13

5:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Webinar

Thursday, September 14

Noon-12:30 p.m.

Public Hearing

2910 E. 5th Street

Served by Routes 17, 300

Friday, September 29

Noon

Board vote

2910 E. 5th Street

Served by Routes 17, 300

Gear Talk: Connecting with our Cycling Community

bike_loveCapital Metro cares about our cycling community. We recognize there are unique needs when it comes to combining bikes+transit.

We know our cyclist riders need and want safe and simple storage and convenient boarding options on our buses and trains.

Capital Metro wants to support these alternative commuting experiences. That’s why need YOUR input and ideas!

If you are a Capital Metro rider and/or live in the service area, please take a moment to complete this survey and help us continue to improve your travel choices for getting to/from the bus and/or train.

Please join Capital Metro on March 3 as we explore cycling amenities, how to use bike+transit and listen to your feedback on future improvements.

March 3: 5:30-8 p.m.

Cycleast Bike Shop

1619 East Cesar Chavez Street

Visit capmetro.org/bike for more information.

Can’t make it in-person? Check out our webinar!

March 4: 12-1 p.m.

Register now!

Continue reading “Gear Talk: Connecting with our Cycling Community”

Get Involved!

Capital Metro has several opportunities for YOU to get involved!

First week of September:

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Full info online at: capmetro.org/Spring2014

Join us at meetings on September 3, 4 and 5 at several locations and times in our community to talk proposed changes to service for Spring 2014.

On September 6 we will host an online webinar at noon to give folks another opportunity to share their input.

September 16: public hearing with board of directors

Full details on upcoming meetings at capmetro.org/Spring2014.

Second week of September:

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Full info online at: capmetro.org/FareChange
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Full info online at: capmetro.org/Budget2014

We have another round of public meetings the following week to talk about the proposed fare restructure and Fiscal Year 2014 Budget.

Join our online webinar September 9 and community meetings September 10 and 12.

Public hearing: September 16 (with Spring 2014 Service Changes)

A final opportunity for public comment will be on September 23, so don’t miss your chance to give us your input!

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We want to hear from you in the next two weeks!

As always we also accept any questions and comments to feedback@capmetro.org and at our online discussion forum at ideas.capmetro.org.

Check out our numbers: 2013 Budget

As a public transit agency, we know you want to keep up with what’s going on at Capital Metro. From service changes to our budget–we want to keep you in the know.

Recently, we worked on our new budget. On Monday, September 24, 2012, the Capital Metro board of directors adopted a $274.5 million project and operating budget for Fiscal Y2013, which takes effect Oct. 1, 2012. The budget was approved in a unanimous vote, which went into effect this month.

In our continued efforts in maintaining financial transparency online, we updated our website with the latest budget information available. View all the in’s-and-out’s of the new budget at capmetro.org/budget2013 or download the full version here.

What you’ll find online:

– The approved 2013 Budget, available for download

– A breakdown of where our budget goes

– Charts of revenue and operating expenditures

– Past annual and monthly budget reports

The FY2013 budget was balanced without reducing service levels or increasing fares, and allows us to continue building our reserves, which will keep us strong and financially stable in the years to come.

The $274.5 million FY2013 budget consists of a:

  • $193.9 million operating budget, and
  • $64.3 million capital budget, and
  • $16.2 million to fund interlocal agreements and other expenses.

As a result of both board and public feedback, $250,000 in additional funding was added to the Basic Transportation Needs Fund, which provides financial support to organizations such as One Voice Central Texas to assist low-income transit-dependent riders, along with an additional $482,235 for the Bus Stop Accessibility Improvement Project (bringing the total commitment for the project to $2,478,130).

“We’ve made much progress during the last few years to strengthen our financial position and enhance our business practices. We’ve changed our labor structure, made bus service more efficient and adopted rigorous financial policies, all in an effort to improve the way we do business,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda Watson.

Capital Metro’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

Bus

Our fiscal year budget planning process is underway (our fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30). Our financial team and board members continue to be busy fine tuning our financial plans based on community feedback.

We’re holding steady in a tough economy

The total proposed FY2013 budget is $274.4 million, which includes both capital and operating budgets.

We have made great progress the past few years in strengthening our financial position and improving our business practices. We have changed our labor structure, discontinued free fares, made bus service more efficient, and adopted rigorous financial policies, all in an effort to improve the way we are doing business. And we’re transparent about how we do business—our financials are posted online, and updated regularly.

Now, with a tough economy that is slowly rebounding (more than 60% of our budget comes from sales tax), coupled with some major investments we’re making in our system, we’ve known for a while that FY2013 will be the toughest fiscal year in Capital Metro’s recent history. But the good news is that through sound management and board policy direction, the proposed FY2013 operating and capital budget was balanced without reducing service levels or increasing fares, and without reducing the fund balance as much as previously anticipated.

We want you know that Capital Metro is successfully responding to the challenges it has faced in recent years and is proactively helping Central Texas solve its transportation problems.

What we’re investing in progress

Our proposed FY2013 budget funds key strategic priorities, including labor structure, building our reserves, repair needs, safety initiatives to meet Federal mandates and Sunset Commission recommendations, and upgrades to our line that can no longer be deferred. For example,

  • We’re buying more than 50 new buses to replace our aging fleet–this means more new buses along our neighborhood routes
  • We’re investing in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), radio replacement, and Positive Train Control. (PTS, a federal unfunded mandate, is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements to provide increased safety.)

We’re investing in transportation solutions for all

During the budget development planning process, we’ve sought input from the community to ensure that our priorities are in line with the community’s transportation related concerns. Some of the most pressing ones we heard from social service agencies, our Access Advisory Committee, ADAPT, other members of Austin’s disabled community, and the general public at-large are related to fares, service, and accessibility. We want you to know that in FY2013, our budget includes:

  • No fare increase
  • No reductions in our overall service
  • Breaking ground on MetroRapid, a fast, new, high capacity service which will serve our busiest corridors (starting in 2014)
  • $2.4 million bus stop accessibility improvements
  • $250K contributed to the Basic Transportation Needs Fund, which supports non-profit organizations in assisting low-income transit dependent individuals’ access to transportation

Your Feedback Matters

Adopting a sustainable budget while investing in quality and innovation will help Capital Metro deliver on its promise to its customers and taxpayers to provide effective services that meet the Austin area’s transportation needs.

We encourage you to keep talking to us. We’re listening. Join us on

More information, including a copy of the proposed budget book and a webinar presentation with Frank Ordaz, our Director of Financial Planning, can be found at http://www.capmetro.org/budget2013/

Happy (fiscal) New Year!

Last week, the Capital Metro board of directors approved the fiscal year 2012 budget. Capital Metro’s new fiscal year began on October 1st with a balanced budget that maintains current transit service levels.

This is actually something to be excited about. In an economy like the one we’ve all been dealing with, Capital Metro passed a balanced budget without increasing fares, cutting overall service, or reducing our reserves. The Austin American Statesman recently published an op-ed by our President & CEO Linda Watson, in which she says:

“Through disciplined budget work, Capital Metro has reduced spending across the board by carefully scrutinizing every line item, delaying construction projects, leaving vacant positions unfilled and adjusting lower-performing bus routes…The bottom line is that Capital Metro is managing its business in a new, open, transparent and fiscally responsible manner, and we will continue to do so. That is what taxpayers, customers and employees expect, and that is exactly what we are going to deliver.”

Other transit agencies around the country have not been so fortunate to be able to pass balanced budgets without cutting service or increasing fares. Make no mistake, the next couple of years will be financially challenging for Capital Metro, too, but through hard work and internal sacrifices we have a good budget to carry the agency forward for the next year.

I would like to personally say THANK YOU to all of you who participated in this year’s budget process, including those who watched videos, submitted ideas on the icanmakeitbetter site, completed surveys, attended our public meetings, and stayed engaged in this process. Community involvement was critical in this process. You might be interested to know that our budget information was seen over 1900 times via the various online methods of involvement, in-person meetings, and targeted community outreach. This is part of our larger effort to improve business practices and transparency for which we were recently recognized by the Texas comptroller of public accounts.

Have a fabulous new fiscal year!

Taking care of business

Op-Ed from Sunday’s Austin American-Statesman:

Watson: Capital Metro moving forward fiscally, transparently

Linda S. Watson, Local Contributor

Capital Metro is taking care of business and doing things differently these days. Some difficult but necessary budget decisions will put the organization on a stronger financial path for the future so we can continue to provide the high-quality service this community deserves.

Just like other public and private businesses and your family budget at home, we are facing tough economic times. But this is not the same Capital Metro that it was just a few years ago. We have raised the bar by strengthening our leadership, business practices and transparency. This progress is reflected in our proposed budget for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, and in the recent recognition of Capital Metro by the Texas comptroller of public accounts as a leader in local government transparency.

Through disciplined budget work, Capital Metro has reduced spending across the board by carefully scrutinizing every line item, delaying construction projects, leaving vacant positions unfilled and adjusting lower-performing bus routes. Continue reading “Taking care of business”