The bridge district faces an estimated $360 million 10-year capital budget deficit, according to projections presented to the Board of Directors on Thursday. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

Golden Gate Bridge district may mull toll hikes again in face of budget deficit

If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate Bill 595 may ask voters to raise bridge tolls across the Bay Area, amassing $4.5 billion in transportation funding, though the Golden Gate Bridge is notably exempt.

But Golden Gate Bridge commuters aren’t out of the fog just yet.

Toll hikes on the Golden Gate Bridge may be mulled in the next few years to help the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District offset budget deficits, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

“That could be part of the solution,” said Denis Mulligan, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge District, when asked about toll hikes at a Friday bridge meeting.

Joe Wire, the bridge district’s auditor-controller, added, “There most likely will be” a toll increase proposed to the Board of Directors near the end of the bridge’s current toll increase cycle. That does not mean they will approve it.

However, the Board of Directors may need to take some action to raise revenues, according to the bridge district’s five- and 10-year financial projection, which was shown to the Board of Directors on Thursday. That projection warns of a projected $360 million 10-year capital budget deficit.

That capital funding is slated for recently approved projects, like the soon-to-be built suicide barrier, bridge erosion rehabilitation and seismic retrofit. The bridge district’s operational budget, which is used for salaries, is projected to have no deficit, and will be used to bolster the capital fund, according to the budget projection.

Notably, the projection is not written to take into account any number of cost-cutting or revenue-generating measures, which are varied and would be approved by the board later.

The project is meant to show financial need for the board to consider future revenue decisions.

A deficit is “inherently going to happen each time you project a plan,” Wire said. Mulligan added that the budget is “trending well.”

The Golden Gate Bridge’s toll is now in a five-year cycle to raise 25 cents annually, which is now $7.75 for those not using FasTrak, and $6.75 for those who do.

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