City Budget Includes Getting More Bucks From Metro

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In the mayor's proposed budget, released earlier this week, Metro is on the hook for almost twice as much money than it had to pay the city in previous years.

The money comes from an agreement that gives the city a portion of Metro's sales tax revenues, and the city used the money for building and improving roads.

The Bill White administration was often criticized for collecting only a little bit of money from Metro while the amount owed to the city grew to about $161 million.

Bumping up the amount this year, from $25 million to $47.6 million, probably won't do much to please the critics, but revenue from Metro was by far the biggest increase for the city this year.

If the city's sales tax revenues come out as expected, along with the money from Metro, the city can almost make up for all that money lost in property taxes.

Furthermore, according to Susan Bandy, deputy director of resource management in the city's public works department, the city will continue to bill Metro for old projects, working the $161 million down to about $100 million.

Bandy tells Hair Balls in an e-mail, "Note that the number will suddenly rise again on October 1 when Metro enters a new fiscal year. But that is the case at the beginning of each Metro fiscal year. It is their commitment for making the funds available to us in the coming year."

The city is counting on more money from Metro this year due to a new contract that was signed at the end of last year. (That contract has actually expired, but Bandy says Metro is still honoring its requirements for payment.)

In previous years, the city had to spend its own money on the street projects, then bill Metro as the projects progressed. Under the new terms, the city gets the money up front.

"Most of the rest of the $100 million is for projects already started that fall under the previous contract and will continue to be billed quarterly after money is spent," Bandy says.

Metro spokeswoman Raequel Roberts tells us that she'll get back to us on Monday about how, if at all, the increase in payments to the city will affect Metro's plans.

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