TriMet General Manager to host Twitter town hall on upcoming budget challenges

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Jan. 12 forum allows the public to ask Neil McFarlane about the agency’s $12-17 million budget shortfall

For the first time, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane will host a Twitter town hall and answer questions from the public on the agency’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

The Thursday, Jan. 12 Twitter town hall is part of a comprehensive outreach effort to hear from the public on the agency’s FY 2013 budget that includes a $12 to $17 million shortfall. Part of the outreach effort includes an online worksheet, “Challenges & Choices – a Budget Discussion Guide” (trimet.org/choices). The interactive guide lets the community weigh in on potential fare increases and service cuts to help close the budget gap. Since its mid-December launch, about 2,500 people have provided feedback and ideas.

Twitter town hall

The Twitter town hall will be Thursday, Jan. 12, from 6 to 7 p.m. and use the hashtag #askneil. McFarlane will be responding to as many budget questions as possible during the chat using the @talktrimet account. Only one question per person will be answered to allow for maximum participation. For additional information on how to participate or follow the discussion, visit trimet.org/askneil.

TriMet will also hold open houses in February to receive additional feedback (dates below).

Budget background

TriMet launched the FY 2013 budget process in late October, three months ahead of schedule, to have more time to develop options to deal with the budget shortfall, which is part of the agency’s operating budget that begins July 1, 2012. TriMet’s FY12 operating budget is about $400 million.

Stagnant economy

With employment and wage growth stagnant, TriMet expects to receive about $3 million less in payroll tax revenues than previously anticipated.

Federal operating grants

TriMet receives $40 million to $45 million in federal funds for annual preventive maintenance. There is significant uncertainty in the federal budget, including the continuation of that funding level. TriMet is estimating a cut of $4 million.

Union contract

TriMet is working to bring the union contract in line with our revenue growth and make it consistent with other transit/government employers. The contract has been expired for two years, and is mired in delays caused by union appeals. The parties are now heading to interest arbitration scheduled for March 2012. This results in a $5 to $10 million addition to the FY13 budget shortfall. The shortfall grows significantly in future years unless union health care costs and other contract issues are reformed.

Public comment and open houses

Submit feedback through the online discussion guide or through the following:

Phone: 503-238-RIDE (7433) select option #5
Email: comments@trimet.org
Mail: Budget Feedback, TriMet MK2, 4012 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97202
Fax: 503-962-6451
TTY: 503-962-5811

Sign up for email alerts on the budget process at trimet.org.

Open houses

Saturday, Feb. 11
Beaverton Library Conference Room
12375 SW 5th St.
1-3 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 13
Multnomah County’s East County Health Center
Sharron Kelly A & B
600 NE 8th St.
Gresham, OR
4:30-6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 15
Portland Building Room C
1120 SW 5th Ave.
4:30-6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 16
Clackamas Town Center
Community Room Lower Level
12000 SE 82nd Ave.
4:30-6:30 p.m.

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