CM reserves down to effectively nothing

Please help me fill in the ?????. Thanks in advance.

An IM conversation with my gracious host, doctor just a moment ago:
[12:33] (gracious host): After a lifetime of working, paying taxes and raising three children on her own, Wilder is struggling. She said she retired on disability from M&T Bank three years ago after undergoing knee replacement and back surgeries. She lives on her Social Security and disability benefits. Last year, she petitioned the bankruptcy court for protection from creditors. She said she did not have to pay federal income taxes last year because her income was too low. “I don’t want to see this country turn into a welfare, nanny state, where we stand in line for groceries, and we’re in welfare lines, and in socialized medicine lines,” Wilder said.
[12:33] (gracious host): http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/antitax_tea_party_could_draw_c.html
[12:33] mdahmus: fuh guh buh
[12:35] (gracious host): with appologies to the Princess Bride…. socialism… You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
[12:35] mdahmus: my favorite comment so far: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/antitax_tea_party_could_draw_c.html#3333987

Cross-posted from the twitter which is about all I have time for right now:
Was there any doubt? CM was being truthy about reserves/quarter-cent money: Statesman article ( also see: helpful chart ).
This happened, ask in short, bronchitis because Capital Metro pursued a cheap rail plan that was so cheap the Feds didn’t want any part of it (45M originally promised to voters from Feds now spent out of reserves) – then, a combination of typical overruns and not-so-typical incompetence (and a bit of overruns caused by under-engineering) led to even more spending out of reserves. When they say they have enough money to pay Austin the commitments they made in the past, they are lying. They clearly don’t have the money; didn’t back then; and Ben Wear deserves some apologies from some Capital Metro employees at this point.

  • DrewC

    Before I moved here from Chicago I lived within a 2 minute walk of the “L”. 24hr train service (albeit on not very well maintained tracks or trains) to most anywhere I needed to go. When I first heard about MetroRail I was thrilled, a modern, clean and efficient train – everything the “L” isn’t. So much so I considered moving near to a planned station. And then I saw the schedule – what a colossal joke. The last train out of Downtown heading north is at 6:45PM – so no drinks/dinner after work. No chance to hit the town and not worry about driving. I expect Austin will be a “car” (and bike) town for a long, long time. MetroRail, if it ever actually starts given the current funding problems, just won’t be a solution for many.

  • Puffy Arizona

    Didn’t they just defend themselves by saying it was a planned spend down? By extension it appears they may have also planned to spend themselves into bankruptcy. Move along, nothing to see here!

  • Kedron Touvell

    granted the above f-ups you mention, isn’t the biggest problem the 15% drop in sales tax receipts? I imagine that is going to be a problem for more government agencies than just Cap Metro (See COA $30-40 million shortfall).
    Of course, if CM had done a better job on the other stuff, they’d be in a better position to weather the tax decrease.

  • Yes, the sales tax drop would have killed them either way, but they said just a month or two ago that they had plenty of money to pay Austin for whatever projects we were going to do with that promised 1/4 cent money (not current sales tax revenues; this is stuff from ’00 and earlier!).
    Just a month or two ago, it was clear that they didn’t have the money, but they lied and said they’d have no trouble paying the bill.

  • Had to go back and expand from home; the hospital wifi was misbehaving.
    CM claimed, a month or two back, they would have had no problem repaying Austin the money owed us per the agreements about the 1/4 cent sales tax. Now it’s clear they may have to cut operations fairly soon. Where, precisely, was the money going to come from to pay back Austin?
    It’s clear Wear was right – that the ‘capital account’ has been spent down to nearly 0 despite owing money to Austin. And if there had been sufficient cushion in the ‘operating account’ to repay Austin as claimed, they wouldn’t be talking about service cuts already.

  • Kedron Touvell

    hmmm…I wonder if this means no Pfluger Bridge overpass this summer.

  • northcomm

    Ugh. I’m done with CapMetro. Letting down the city so horridly, lying through their teeth…
    Maybe its time to reform Austin’s transit situation?