REPORT OF THE FINANCE-AUDITING COMMITTEE/COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING OF JUNE 27, 2002

  1. Approve Adoption of Golden Gate Bridge Toll Option G, $5 Cash/$4 FasTrak and Related Actions
  1. Discussion ensued, including the following:
  • Director Blue expressed his opposition to a toll increase unless there are significant cuts in District expenses, in particular to salaries that he feels are out of control.

  • Director Smith commented that District employees are exceptionally hardworking and that their salaries should not be compromised in the District's efforts to balance its budget. He expressed his support for the toll increase. Director Smith also urged the Board to consider the cost savings that could be realized through self-insuring the District.

  • Director Harrison expressed her support for the toll increase on the condition that staff seriously undertake all of the cost-saving measures contemplated in the Strategic Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability, and that the Board be willing to make the hard decisions necessary to implement the measures in the Strategic Plan.

  • Director Ammiano supported, with regret, a toll increase and suggested that consideration be given for a "free day" for toll payers on the Golden Gate Bridge. In response, Ms. Kupersmith stated that staff would study the financial impacts of a "free day," if the Board provides such direction. Director Ammiano noted these are difficult financial times everywhere.

  • Director Kress expressed his support for the toll increase, with the understanding that he believes the amount of increase should be higher than that proposed in Toll Option G.

  • Director Stroeh noted that the toll increase is just one piece of a total equation to achieve a balanced budget, to be combined with other cost-saving and revenue-enhancement measures.

  • Director Hall expressed his opposition to the toll increase until such a time as all users, not only automobile users, of the Bridge are assessed reasonably and fairly in proportion to their usage. He expressed his opinion that adoption of a toll increase, without considering a charge for other users, however badly needed, would be premature at this time.

  • Director Leno expressed his support for the toll increase, noting that Toll Option G is a reasonable compromise solution that still allows discounts for FasTrak users.

  • Director Yee expressed his opposition to the toll increase, noting that he would not support a toll increase until significant cuts had been made in the District's expenses.

  • Director Boro expressed his support for the toll increase, noting the following points:

  • Over 30 years ago, legislation promoted by the City and County of San Francisco directed for the District to implement a transit system in order to alleviate the growing number of automobiles entering San Francisco. He cautioned that if a toll increase is not adopted, toll revenue may no longer be available to support the District's transit systems which could result in a significant increase in traffic congestion both within Marin and within San Francisco on the U.S. Highway 101 corridor.

  • The District must sustain its commitment to public transit, but consideration should be given to placing a cap on the amount of subsidy that toll revenues provide to the District's transit systems, currently at $33 million.

  • The Seismic Retrofit project is of paramount importance, and must have the necessary funding to continue and complete the project.

  • As a national icon, security concerns on the Golden Gate Bridge are extremely significant and security at the Bridge cannot be compromised. He noted that the federal Department of Homeland Security will be making available to state governments funding in the amount of $3.8 billion for local security needs.

  • Director Martini expressed his support for the toll increase, noting that while controlling expenses is important, many significant capital projects, such as the seismic retrofit and security enhancements, are beyond the control of the District. He also noted that District employees have done an exceptional job in serving the District, and that salaries should be consistent with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. He further noted that he is encouraged by the Strategic Plan for Achieving Long-Term Financial Stability which consists of revenue and expense reduction measures, such as the possibility of seeking federal funding to support the District's security needs.

  • Director Shahum expressed her support for the toll increase, noting that there has been a misconception that automobile drivers would be assuming the entire burden of increasing revenue for the District. She stated that there have been many incremental transit fare increases over the past 11 years, and that it is time for an increase in tolls to catch up with the fare increases.

  • Director McDonnell expressed his support for the toll increase, noting that transit riders, whose service would be cut if no toll increase occurred would bear the real burden, not solo drivers who choose not to carpool. He also noted that all of the Marin Board members have promoted several Marin County transit tax initiatives in the past that failed to win the necessary two-thirds support by the voters, while San Francisco voters have enacted various taxes to support transit.

  • President Brown commented that the Board has been left with no choice but to serve the public by increasing tolls to continue funding its operations, including transit services. He also commended staff for the monumental amount and quality of work that was done in preparation for the toll increase decision.

b.     Public Comment
   

David Kamm expressed his concerns that the toll increase would unduly affect the working poor of Marin County.

   

Susan Deluxe expressed her opposition to an increase in the Golden Gate Bridge toll, and expressed her opinion that Marin Directors should abide by the 1988 voter initiative and vote "No" on the proposal and further that the Golden Gate Bridge should be operated by the State of California, Department of Transportation.

 
c.     Directors STROEH/LENO
Ordinance No. 2002-06 approves implementation of Golden Gate Bridge Toll Option G: $5 Cash/$4 FasTrak, as summarized below and detailed in the attached ordinance, effective September 1, 2002:

TOLL OPTION G

Basic Auto Rate (2-axle)                       Cash
                                                     FasTrak
$5.00
$4.00
Axle Rate (per axle if more than 2)        Cash $2.50
Rate for Persons with Disabilities
with valid District identification card
$1.50
Motorcycles and Carpools (3 people or more) Free during
carpool hours*

*Carpool hours, weekdays (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays) are:
     5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
     4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Adopted
AYES (15):   Directors Ammiano, Boro, Eddie, Fraser, Harrison, Kress,
Leno, Martini, McDonnell, Pahre, Shahum and Stroeh;
Second Vice President Middlebrook; First Vice President Smith;
President Brown
NOES (3):   Directors Blue, Hall and Yee
ABSENT (1):   Director Kerns