Should Metro use capital money for operations?
At this morning's budget discussion, WMATA Board members expressed diametrically opposed positions about using capital funding to close part of the $175 million budget gap.
The current budget proposal recommends deferring $30 million of the capital program to help close the operating budget gap. However, Peter Benjamin, one of the Board members from Maryland, expressed his strong opposition to continuing to raid the capital program for operating funds. The Board did that last year, and he fears that continuing or expanding the practice ignores critical maintenance needs.
DC Councilmember and current Board Chair Jim Graham, and DC Alternate Director Anthony Giancola, both spoke up for using capital money. Graham even suggested using additional capital money, such as the $150 million that Congress has approved and the $50 million in matching funds that DC, Maryland, and Virginia will have to identify. However, this money was all specifically intended to address Metro's capital needs.
Those needs are enormous. Metro has to replace its aging and unsafe 1000-series railcars, for example. But there's so much more. Metro estimated they need $7.6 billion over the next 10 years. If all the federal and local matching money goes to the capital program, that will cover $3 billion of the $7.6 billion. That means to keep the system from crumbling, governments will somehow need to come up with $4.6 billion more Graham opened his remarks by saying, "The District of Columbia disagrees [with Benjamin]." Does the District of Columbia really disagree? If you live in DC, tell Jim Graham what you think, one way or the other, at email@example.com.
Graham opened his remarks by saying, "The District of Columbia disagrees [with Benjamin]." Does the District of Columbia really disagree? If you live in DC, tell Jim Graham what you think, one way or the other, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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