NY MTA debt plan could hit operating budget: report

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 12:53 PM
NY MTA debt plan could hit operating budget: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority could "further complicate" its difficult financial position if it goes ahead with a $14.8 billion borrowing plan to fund its capital program, the state comptroller said in a report on Wednesday.

The bonding would be the largest borrowing program in the history of the MTA, which is America's largest mass-transit system and one of the biggest issuers in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market.

The MTA's financial plan for the current year also includes "significant budget risks," said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

"Before taking on nearly $15 billion in new debt, the MTA must present the public with the facts about the potential long-term implications of this new borrowing on services, fares and budget gaps," DiNapoli said in a statement.

"There is no debating that the capital program is critically important, but my analysis shows that the magnitude of this borrowing plan will have serious implications for the operating budget in the coming years," he said.

The MTA had no immediate comment.

This month Fitch Ratings cut the MTA's credit rating, citing mounting operational costs, a soaring pension liability and "higher-than-expected near-to-medium-term financial pressure."

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by James Dalgleish)