Will Muni Finally Catch a Financial Break?

Categories: Public Transit
Oily bus.jpg
Is good news on the way?
City Controller Ben Rosenfield was strolling through the pathways of City Hall this morning with a document tucked under his arm that may or may not save Muni some much-needed moolah. He's not saying. Not yet at least.

The document beneath his arm was a draft copy of an audit of Muni's work orders -- money Muni pays to other city departments, such as the cops and city attorney, for ostensibly doing work on behalf of Muni.

"We found things," said Rosenfield. Unfortunately, he's duty-bound to not reveal what he found -- and how much money Muni could save -- until the final report comes out in about two weeks. He did note, however, that finding areas where Muni could save money "wouldn't take much."

While Mayor Gavin Newsom and others have defended the work orders as completely legitimate, critics have portrayed them as a means for city departments to pillage the finances of the transit system, in lieu of making budget cuts of their own. Following voters' passage of Proposition A in 2007 -- which diverted some $27 million from the city's general fund and established "dedicated funding" for Muni -- work orders sky-rocketed. Between 2006 and 2009, Muni's payout jumped from around $36 million to roughly $68 million.

Currently mired in yet another budget crunch, Muni is now counting on the controller's audit finding millions to be trimmed in work order costs. Rosenfield, again, was unable to tell us if the numbers he found were in this ballpark -- or, perhaps, even greater.

Hopefully he did, for Muni's sake -- the agency's year-end expenditure projections already "assume controller is able to identify work-order savings" of $2 million.

Photo   |   Jim Herd

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