Here we go again, folks. Another giveaway contract to BART unions. After a 15.8% salary increase in 2013, the BART board has now agreed to another 10.5% increase.
For that, we taxpayers got very little in exchange except for an agreement not to strike while the contract is in force. What should have been a no-strike ever clause wasn’t part of the deal.
Unfortunately since its inception BART has been plagued by financial mismanagement. Among other things it has set little or nothing aside for eventual capital replacement. Instead it gave away all the money in wages and benefits making it the highest paid transportation system in the country. It also has the highest fares.
The outrageous benefits were left untouched. Total compensation (wages and benefits) for the average worker is over $100,000. For a system crying poor mouth this makes no sense at all.
This new contract is to set the stage for a huge bond measure on the November ballot. Claiming the system has reached the end of its useful life, BART says it needs $10 billion for capital improvements. BART claims “its cars are the oldest big-city fleet in the United States”. The truth, it’s the fourth youngest among fifteen similar system nationally.
And let’s not forget that they spent $486 million on a link to the Oakland airport replacing a completely satisfactory and efficient bus system.
To summarize, BART financial management has been a disaster from its inception. The BART board has rolled over to the unions, giving away outrageous wages and benefits. It has both the highest fares and wages/benefits in the country. It has set little or nothing aside for capital replacement. It expects the taxpayers to make up for its financial follies.
Until the BART board and unions wake up and renegotiate the contract it should not be given any more money to mismanage.
The Board must develop a reasonable financial plan and strategy (of which it has none). It must develop some “backbone” when dealing/negotiating with its unions.
We are giving enough taxpayer subsidies already in sales and property taxes. We shouldn’t give them any more to mismanage.
It’s time to vote no on any bond measure.
Ken Hambrick, Chairman
Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers