MBTA's Midyear Deficit Balloons To $53 Million

MBTA officials are weighing a hiring freeze on some positions, tighter inventory procurement and other options to address a midyear budget deficit that's expanding $16 million beyond what they expected.

The transit authority faces a $53 million projected fiscal 2020 budget deficit, an increase over the $37 million deficit built into the annual spending plan approved by the MBTA Control Board in April.

That larger deficit is being driven by revenues from real estate and advertising that are not meeting the T's projections, "fuel price spikes," and overtime expenses, according to MBTA Chief Administrative Officer David Panagore's presentation at a control board meeting on Monday.

Board members did not advance a specific strategy to address the rising deficit, but options Panagore floated included a hiring freeze on roughly 70 support services positions.

Other ideas included in his presentation were tightening inventory controls, requiring executive approval for all professional service requests, and adjusting the balance of full-time employees and contractors. Pension reform could be a viable route, he said, but as a "mid- to long-term" option.

Despite increased state aid and rounds of fare hikes, the MBTA has faced budget deficits for years, although the scale has decreased somewhat in the wake of the FMCB's formation.



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