Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe SFMTA will implement double stopping on Muni Metro trains at certain stations starting this weekend.

SFMTA authorizes $170 million in revenue bonds

Revenue bonds totaling $170 million were authorized by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday, the first such act since a 2007 ballot initiative paved the way for their creation.

Of the funding approved by the agency’s board of directors, $50 million will go toward fixing up city-owned garages, about $48 million will pay for long-term Muni system improvements, and $50 million will buy up and refinance the SFMTA’s existing debt, said Sonali Bose, the agency’s chief financial officer. The agency authorized up to $170 million — about $20 million more than needed — in case of any cost overruns in those projects, she said.

Interest rates are at historic lows in the bond market, making the $170 million authorization a sensible call at this time, Bose said.

“We’re not going to get a better deal than now,” Bose said.

While the revenue bonds — which don’t require voter approval — can pay for system improvements, the money cannot be used to help plug the SFMTA’s current operating budget deficit. The agency is facing a two-year projected shortfall of $80 million.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who has raised concerns in the past about The City using bond revenue for operational programs, said he was OK with the SFMTA borrowing money to pay for one-time capital projects like rail rehabilitation.

The agency’s ability to issue revenue bonds came from Proposition A, a 2007 ballot measure approved by 55 percent of voters. The focus of that measure was to give the SFMTA greater authority over parking measures, an initiative touted as a way to provide the debt-ridden agency an extra $26 million a year in revenue.

However, the economy tanked after the ballot approval, and that extra $26 million for the SFMTA has all been diverted to pay for the agency’s work orders — bills from other city departments for services rendered.

The revenue bonds approved Tuesday will begin to take effect next year. The funds will help pay for a rehabilitation project at Muni’s Green yard, replacing system radios, and upgrading rail infrastructure in the Sunset Tunnel.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

artsbooksLocalMuniSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Two new contractors charged with bribery in Nuru scandal

Two construction executives are facing federal bribery charges for allegedly giving former… Continue reading

S.F. museums to reopen to the public

Visitor capacity limited to 25 percent as safety measure

Small businesses in limbo as end of eviction moratorium nears

Many commercial tenants ‘teetering on the edge,’ unable to pay rent

Despite long run of ‘Spare the Air’ days, free transit remains a rarity

In response to weeks of unhealthy air quality caused by smoke from… Continue reading

City hopes to convert Granada Hotel to supportive housing

State grant could allow purchase of 232-unit Lower Nob Hill SRO

Most Read