Capital Metro: “Seriously Transparent”

Capital Metro CEO Mike Martinez is at the helm of the Transparency Bus.
Capital Metro Board Chairman Mike Martinez is at the helm of the Transparency Bus.

Capital Metro has been awarded—for the third year in a row—the Texas Comptroller’s highest rating for its financial transparency efforts. Yesterday, we unveiled a unique “transparency bus” to remind the community—(you)—they can track every dollar Capital Metro spends on our website.

Senator Kirk Watson noted in a statement, “Capital Metro has done a ton of hard work over the past three years to transform itself into a model of best practices…Capital Metro’s work shows a continued commitment to being accountable on current and future investments in our comprehensive transportation system.”

CEO Linda Watson issued the following open letter to the community yesterday.

December 4, 2012
Greetings.

Capital Metro is seriously transparent. That was the message I conveyed today, along with Austin City Councilman and Capital Metro Chairman Mike Martinez, and Legislative Director for Senator Kirk Watson, Sandy Guzman, at a news conference announcing that Capital Metro has been awarded the highest financial transparency rating—for the third year in a row—from the Texas Comptroller.

We were the first transit system in the state to receive a gold transparency rating.

Capital Metro posts a wealth of financial information Continue reading “Capital Metro: “Seriously Transparent””

Capital Metro approves a long-range financial plan

Yesterday afternoon, the board of directors approved a long-range financial plan that incorporates the forecasts for revenue and expenditures and financing options for Capital Metro for the next seven years. The plan itself is not posted online yet, but here’s an overview.

This landmark plan outlines a strategy to address several funding challenges over the next few years while increasing our savings to a projected $68 million by 2018.

As outlined in Capital Metro’s new strategic plan, we are taking steps to strengthen the financial health of the agency. The long-range financial plan will help Capital Metro meet its financial goals by:

  • Maintaining current service in the short-term
  • Providing funding for bus fleet replacements
  • Helping meet cash reserve targets of Senate Bill 650
  • Continuing MetroRapid plans as scheduled
  • Planning for federally-required Positive Train Control implementation
  • Supporting the labor structure transition

Of significant concern has been ensuring that Capital Metro’s ageing fleet can be replaced on a regular schedule. The long-range plan includes a seven-year strategy that will replace a total of 292 vehicles.

That strategy includes Capital Metro borrowing $20 million to jumpstart the vehicle replacement program in FY2013-14 and to allow the agency to stay on track to meet the Texas Legislature’s cash savings requirements as specified in SB650. Capital Metro expects to save millions in vehicle maintenance costs over the life of the loan.

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”

The gold ball of transparency

Comptroller Gold Circle logo (gold ball with white stars)Guess how much Capital Metro paid last month for upholstery? Well, you don’t have to guess. The information is at your fingertips on the handy Financial and Audit Information Page on our website.

For the second straight year, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is recognizing Capital Metro as a leader in local government transparency. The Comptroller calls it the Leadership Circle “Gold” certification.  The program recognizes local governments that strive to meet a high standard of financial transparency by opening their books to the public and providing information in a clear, consistent and user-friendly format.

Last year, Capital Metro was the first transit system in Texas and the first government agency in Austin area to receive the Gold designation.

Awards are nice, and we get to put the cool gold ball logo on our website again this year. But really what this is all about is doing what’s right. If we hold ourselves to a higher standard of openness, then you’ll have a much clearer picture of how Capital Metro does its business. And if you’re interested, you can pretty much see how every dollar is spent.

Here’s some of what you’ll be able to find online: Continue reading “The gold ball of transparency”