MARTA loses flexibility in spending |


MARTA loses flexibility in spending |

MARTA got its financial handcuffs back this week when legislation freeing it from a state mandate about how it spend its sales tax money expired.

Transit officials have long griped about the state requirement that they spend 50 percent of the sales tax money they receive on capital improvements and half on operations because it undercuts their flexibility. The requirement was enacted to ensure the authority always had sustantial funds available for capital improvements.

In 2010, lawmakers granted the authority a three-year reprieve, allowing it to spend more than 50 percent on operations. The financial impact, however, was not great because a substantial amount of the sales tax money — $141 million of the $430 million capital budget projected for fiscal 2014— goes to pay bond holders and the weak economy undercut sales tax collections.

That means that for fiscal 2014, which starts July 1, only an extra $1.7 million would have been available for operations if the law hadn’t expired, said Davis Allen, program manager for MARTA. The operations budget for fiscal 2014 is almost $427 million, and includes funding sources other than sales taxes.

via MARTA loses flexibility in spending |

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