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April 22, 2010

Metro Responds to Impact of Missouri Budget Cuts on Agency

Metro has received notice from the Missouri State Budget Director that the remaining balance of the $12 million emergency appropriation approved in the last legislative session will not be disbursed to the Agency by the State of Missouri.

“Metro has closely monitored the budget debates in Jefferson City over the last several months and we have been in discussions with our St. Louis legislative delegation,” said Metro President and CEO Robert J. Baer. “We understand that the state’s precarious budget situation has put many important services at risk, and that public transit is among them.

“While we are disappointed, we are not surprised that the State will not be able to make the final $4 million payment of the $12 million emergency appropriation that Metro has been using to restore a large portion of the transit services cut in March 2009,” Baer added. “Our Missouri state elected officials helped bridge a serious funding gap and made it possible for thousands who rely on transit to continue to get to work and other important destinations over the past year. On their behalf we would like to express our appreciation to Governor Jay Nixon and the Missouri Legislature.”

New revenue from the passage of Proposition A on April 6 will not flow to Metro Transit until the fall of this year. Metro has been reviewing options that will allow the Agency to maintain the current level of service and move forward with service restoration as planned. “We will not delay service restoration,” Baer said. “The region’s citizens have clearly demonstrated their desire to preserve and grow public transit options across our community, and we will deliver.”

Strategies being considered to keep that commitment include:

• Not filling open positions that are not operator, mechanic and front line supervisor vacancies critical to service restoration
• Continue to keep a tight rein on non-personnel expenses
• Delay capital projects and expenditures, thereby delaying the outlay of the local matching funds
• Consider accepting $1.8 million loan offered in 2009 from St. Clair County executive Mark Kern and the St. Clair County Transit District. Metro did not move forward with executing the loan in 2009 because of Missouri’s emergency appropriation

“It’s obvious we are living in very challenging economic times,” Baer said. “But thanks to the decision made by St. Louis County voters on April 6, our community will be able to restore and preserve public transit services that will actually help strengthen our local economy by preserving access to jobs, promoting tourism and encouraging business development.”

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