On Thursday, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced a potential short-term solution to halt fare increases and service reductions that could otherwise result from a projected budget shortfall at IndyGo.
IndyGo publicly presented proposed service reductions and fare increases on May 20 at public hearings. More than 400 people turned out for these public hearings and many voiced concerns and ideas related to the proposed changes that were developed in response to a $4.3 million shortfall to IndyGo's property tax distribution.
"IndyGo is not alone in this. And neither are the IndyGo riders who depend on this service to get to and from their jobs, doctors appointments, schools. There are many in our community for whom public transit is the only form of transit-and the only means of connecting to opportunity," said Indianapolis Mayor Ballard.
The Mayor's proposed solution leverages existing dollars from a number of sources, including IndyGo's existing general operating balance, the rebalancing of IndyGo's revenues in 2011 between operating and capital, the use of a $5 million line of credit and other IndyGo reserves.
After review of public comments and further assessment of fiscal review in light of the Mayor's proposed collaboration, the IndyGo Board of Directors decided to table the vote on the proposed changes. This means that IndyGo's current service and fare structure will remain intact through 2011.
In addition, the IndyGo Board of Directors voted to freeze wages for all non-represented IndyGo employees. The labor arbitration award in late 2009 with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents IndyGo's professional coach operators, mechanics and some administrative employees, provides for a salary increase on July 1, 2010, and January 1, 2011.
Although the IndyGo Board has no authority to implement a salary freeze for ATU-represented employees, it took action to freeze wages for non-represented staff. This freeze impacts 63 of IndyGo's 460 employees and will result in a cost avoidance of $138,000.
Mayor Ballard indicated that the proposed short-term solution should provide adequate time for development of a long-term solution, but that a long-term solution is imperative and should engage the High Performance Government Team, community organizations and local businesses in the development process.