Drop in & Learn about Cap Metro’s 2019 Budget

Budget Outreach

Capital Metro operates on public funding, and we take that responsibility seriously. Part of maintaining financial transparency includes letting the public see our budget to ensure we are using your money wisely

And beginning next week we’re going to do just that, and you’ll have four chances to hear about our proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019 and ask questions. Wherever you are — north of the river or south, downtown or on the internet — we’ve got an option for you to participate. So please do!

We posted the entire budget online last week, and you can review it in full. So, come prepared with questions and comments. Members of our staff will be there to answer your questions, either about the budget or just about anything else Capital Metro does.

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”

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/

The Long and Winding Road: the Capital Metro budget

Capital Metro’s budget process for 2012 is already underway, although it seems like 2011 has just begun. There’s a reason for that. Metro works on a fiscal year basis, and our “New Year” officially begins in October. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then, and there’s a big part for you to play in the process.

Writing Capital Metro’s budget begins with each operating department making their requests to my department, Finance. That covers a lot of departments, ranging from Human Resources to the folks who operate our buses and trains. The Finance staff meets with each department to talk about their request and match it with our financial forecast for the year.

Right now, we are predicting a continued improvement in the sales tax, which accounts for 75% of our revenue. The rest of our funding comes mainly from federal grants and fares. We expect to have more revenue to work with in the coming year, but like a family, Capital Metro always has more needs than there are dollars.

In the coming months, we’ll be sorting out those needs. Metro staff led by President Linda Watson will be meeting internally for awhile working out the details, but this summer we’ll be asking the community for input. Look for a video as early as next week of Linda talking about Capital Metro’s budget. We are planning a budget “open house” that I promise will be more interesting than it sounds. We’ll also be holding an online community forum. We have other ideas for encouraging input that you’ll be hearing more about, too.

I can’t stress enough how important community input is to writing a sound budget. It’s going to be a challenge to meet our budget goals in coming years, which includes not only investment in our vehicles and facilities, but also in making sure Capital Metro remains on a sound financial footing. That means tough choices, and it’s important to us to understand what’s important to you. We can do all the planning in the world, but without public input, it could be off target.

In any case, once we have gone through our internal and public processes, Capital Metro’s board of directors will begin examining the budget in detail in August. This review process will go on for several weeks, and I can tell you based on last year, a lot of hard questions will be asked and changes made.

And then there’ll be another chance for the public to have a say. We plan a public hearing on the budget, based on the board’s input, for mid-September. Then the board will approve the budget based on public input and internal recommendations. The whole process will be done, we plan, by September 26, just ahead of our New Year’s day, October 1.

Then it is just a matter of keeping track of how the departments are doing against their budgets and starting to think about 2013—all before it’s even 2012 on the calendar.

Billy Hamilton is the interim chief financial officer for Capital Metro and a tax and fiscal policy consultant. In his 30+ years of professional experience, he’s worked on tax and fiscal policy issues from every angle. In 2006, Hamilton retired from Texas state government as chief deputy comptroller of public accounts of Texas. He writes a regular column on state tax issues for the national publication State Tax Notes, and he’ll be contributing a series of articles for Capital MetroBlog over the next several months about the development of Capital Metro’s FY12 budget.