Transportation

Metro Prepares For Lower Sales Tax Revenues In 2017 Budget

Metro’s board is preparing to vote on the transit agency’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Officials say they’re on solid financial ground despite an expected drop in some revenues.

Metro Director of Management and Budget Phil Brenner speaks at a public hearing on the agency's proposed FY 2017 budget.
Metro Director of Management and Budget Phil Brenner speaks at a public hearing on the agency’s proposed FY 2017 Budget.

Metro’s board is preparing to vote on the transit agency’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Officials say they’re on solid financial ground despite an expected drop in some revenues. 

Metro Director of Management and Budget Phil Brenner sums up the agency’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year: “It’s financially conservative, it’s achievable, and it’s reasonable.”

Brenner says Metro expects to spend about $568 million on operating expenses in FY 2017, a 1.8 percent increase over last fiscal year. That money goes to operate Metro’s local buses and the light rail system, along with its park and ride buses, HOV lanes, paratransit service, and commuter vans.    

As for the money that’s coming in to Metro, Brenner says they’re anticipating a drop in sales tax revenue that helps fund the agency. That’s mainly because of the downturn in the energy sector.  

Light rail train in front of Metro's headquarters on Main Street.
Light rail train in front of Metro’s headquarters on Main Street.

“Sales tax is our highest source of revenue,” says Brenner. “We’ve been conservative, and in the first year of the plan which is the 2017 budget, we’ve taken a 1 percent reduction on the forecasted growth rate.”  

Also included in the mix is a one-time expenditure of $1.4 million for Super Bowl related expenses. Brenner says that could help Metro’s bottom line in the future.

“Because that Super Bowl is estimated to bring just over $5 million of additional sales tax revenues,” adds Brenner.

Metro projects its 2017 workforce will number close to 4,100 people. That’s an increase of about 100 new employees over 2016.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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