Muni to pay SamTrans $9.2MBy Christine Morente
A 15-year-old debt owed to SamTrans by San Francisco's Muni finally could be paid off.
Officials from the two transit agencies agreed last week on a tentative deal that would allow Muni to pay back $9.2 million to San Mateo County's bus service, which also oversees Redi-Wheels paratransit and Caltrain.
SamTrans' Spokeswoman Christine Dunn said it's an "agreement in principal," and the two groups are still negotiating the details. No timeline has been set yet.
"It's coming at a great time," said San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill, who sits on the SamTrans board. "This money will definitely go a long way this year in eliminating our deficit this year."
SamTrans faces a $10.5million deficit for fiscal year 2008-2009. Muni's money would be a relief because the county's transit agency is paying off what was initially a $300 million debt used for BART construction, Hill said.
About $100 million was set aside for repayment. Out of that, an annual payment of $15 to $20 million has been going to pay off the debt, he said.
"The money won't go far," Hill said. "It's being spent at a rapid rate to pay off the debt and being used to pay down the annual imbalance of our budget due to the high cost of public transit. Once that's gone, we will then be having to look elsewhere for those funds. (Muni's) money is crucial."
In 1991, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties joined together to buy the Caltrain right-of-way from San Francisco to San Jose for more than $200 million.
Because San Francisco and Santa Clara did not have the money at the time, SamTrans covered the two counties for $47.9 million. County officials from San Francisco and Santa Clara promised they would make their best efforts to pay it back. No due date on the loan, Dunn said.
Santa Clara still owes $38.7million.
"We're hoping the VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) and Santa Clara will come to an agreement as well," Hill said.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo County Times. Published 05/15/2007.