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TriMet launches FY13 public budget discussion

December 15, 2011

With $12-17 million budget shortfall, agency creates worksheet for public to help develop cost-cutting options


With the agency facing a $12 to $17 million shortfall in its upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 budget, TriMet has created an online interactive guide for the public to give feedback on where potential cuts or changes should occur to balance the budget.

"Challenges & Choices – a Budget Discussion Guide" is available online at and provides background on the budget shortfall, plus a worksheet for public input. It asks the public for direction on ideas for fare increases and service cuts.

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane launched the FY 2013 budget process in late October, three months ahead of schedule, to have more time to develop options to deal with the budget shortfall. This included creating a Budget Task Force to provide him with recommendations on budget choices. The shortfall results from the continued slow recovery, an anticipated cut in federal grants and costs associated with a new labor contract.

"As we begin to develop ideas and options, we're looking for direction from the public on ways to close the budget gap and realign our cost structure," said McFarlane. "With their input, we will then develop specific proposals to bring forward in the months ahead."

The shortfall is part of the agency's FY13 operating budget that begins July 1, 2012. TriMet's FY12 operating budget is about $400 million.

Stagnant economy

With employment and wage growth stagnant, TriMet expects to receive about $3 million less in payroll tax revenues than previously anticipated.

Federal grants

TriMet receives $40 to $45 million in federal funds for annual preventive maintenance. There is significant uncertainty in the federal budget, including the continuation of that funding level. TriMet is estimating a cut of $4 million.

Union contract

TriMet is working to bring the union contract in line with our revenue growth and make it consistent with other transit/government employers. The contract has been expired for two years, and is mired in delays caused by union appeals. The parties are now heading to interest arbitration scheduled for March 2012. This results in a $5 to $10 million addition to the FY13 budget shortfall. The shortfall grows significantly in future years unless union health care costs and other contract issues are reformed.

Next steps

The online budget discussion guide and worksheet is available at Submit feedback online or via the following:

Phone: 503-238-RIDE (7433) select option #5
Mail: Budget Feedback, TriMet MK2, 4012 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97202
Fax: 503-962-6451
TTY: 503-962-5811

Sign up for email alerts on the budget process.

Open Houses in February

Share you feedback at an upcoming open house:

February 11, 2012

Beaverton Library Conference Room
12375 SW 5th St.
1-3 p.m.

February 13, 2012

Multnomah County East County
County Health Center
Sharron Kelly A & B
600 NE 8th St.
Gresham, OR
4:30-6:30 p.m.

February 15, 2012

Portland Building Room C
1120 SW 5th Ave.
4:30-6:30 p.m.

February 16, 2012

Clackamas Town Center
Community Room Lower Level
12000 SE 82nd Ave.
4:30-6:30 p.m.