Hearing examiners recommend approval of SEPTA budgets

SEPTA got the OK from two independent hearing examiners on its proposed fiscal year 2012 operating and capital budgets, paving the way for SEPTA Board approval later this month.

That didn’t stop one of them from taking a few shots at the city’s consumer advocate.

The authority is required by law to hold a series of public hearings every year on its budget proposals overseen by independent hearing examiners chosen by the SEPTA Board chairman. The hearing examiners then write reports to the board, which reviews them before voting on the proposals.

That vote is scheduled for the May 26 board meeting.

In his report, Robert M. Waller, who oversaw the operating budget process, addressed several criticisms leveled by Philadelphia Consumer Advocate Lance Haver at an operating budget hearing in Center City.

Haver accused SEPTA of being secretive about its rainy day service stabilization fund and said the authority hadn’t done enough to raise revenues apart from money taken in through the farebox. He also criticized the authority for not doing enough to head off projected electricity rate hikes.

Waller said he was satisfied with SEPTA’s explanation that it didn’t yet know how much the money will be in the service stabilization fund at the end of the fiscal year. The authority predicts it will have between $85 million and $110 million in the fund.

He also criticized Haver for not providing details of ways SEPTA could raise revenue in additional revenue or in how it could save money on electricity purchases.

Contact the reporter at acampisi@planphilly.com

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