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Plans Recommended For OCTA Execs Getting Big Pay Raises While Transit Fares Increase by 33.33%

Posted by orangedeafies on September 16, 2012

Fare increases for transit, when required, should be based on needs, not wants. Yet the Director of OCTA’s Finance Department has said that the Finance Department decided to over rule the Fare Policy Committee’s decision and recommend a 33.33% fare increase to the standard fixed route bus service–an increase to $2.00 a boarding beginning February 10, if approved. This is so people who pay standard cash fare will pay in dollar bills–no coins. This is a want or convenience of the OCTA Finance Department. The Fare Policy Committee recommended a 25% fare increase to $1.75. This would cover all expenses plus give a 5% cushion. The Finance Director said the real need is 20%.

Thiis issue with the fixed route base fare is important to us because this is the fare that determines what the ACCESS Standard Service fare will be. Under a 33.33% fixed route fare increase, ACCESS Standard Service will also go up $33.33%. This would be $3.60 each way or da new round trip fare of $7.20. So getting the fixed route standard service fare increase rolled back alot if not eliminated would have the same reduction impact on ACCESS standard service.

But at the same time OCTA says it is broke and needs a fare increase to make ends meet, it has found the funding to provide merit pay increases and benefits increases to OCTA Executive Staff which can be seen in the OCTA Budget passed for 2013. The Executive Department includes the CEO’s Office, Auditor’s Office, and Clerk of the Board. Merit pay increases in the CEO’s Office will raise salaries from $554,315 this year to $570,944 in 2013–a merit pay increase of $16,629. The catagory of “Other Benefits” for this office will go up from $36,362 this year to $54,499 in 2013 or an increase of $18,137. Pensions in the CEO’s Office are going up from $186,516 this year to $202,527 in 2013 or $16,011. The CEO’s Office had 5 people in it this year and will have 5 people in it in 2013. The Office of Clerk of the Board–also part of the Executive Department–will see an increase in the “Other Benefits” catagory from $91,830 this year to $117,121 in 2013; and salaries there will be going up from $233,758 this year to $242,600 in 2013 with the merit pay increases. The number of people in the Clerk of The Board’s Office was 4 this year and will be 4 in 2013. The third part of the Executive Department is the Auditor’s Office where salaries will be going up from $27,440 this year to $40,573 in 2013 due to merit pay increases. The Auditor’s Office had 6 staff this year and will have 6 staff in 2013. The increase in salaries and benefits in the Executive Department alone comes to over $1,228,264 in 2013. Similar increases have been given to executives of the other OCTA departments. This all happens about the same time the fare increase will be kicking in.

We must speak out in favor of rolling the fare increases back, creating a fare scholarship program for those who would otherwise be tossed off the system due to inability to pay; and let OCTA know that there is a problem with fare increases based on wants instead of needs and large executive merit pay and benefits increases at the same time that over 8% of OCTA passengers could be tossed off the system and major holes are burned into the transportation budgets of agencies and programs that work with the disabled community, seniors, and those living in poverty in Orange County. There are 2 OCTA Community Meetings scheduled for next week on the Fare Increase:

(1) Thursday, September 20, 2012, 6:00PM to 8:00PM, Southwest Senior Center, 2201 West McFadden Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92704; served by bus routes 47, 66, and 145 and ACCESS.

(2) Friday, September 21, 2012, 6:00PM to 8:00PM, Laguna Hills Community Center, 25555 Alicia Parkway, Heritage Room B and C, Laguna Hills, CA 92653; served by bus route 91 and ACCESS.

Hopefully, we can get a large turnout at these meetings including a big client and staff turnout. THese fare increases would be very destructive if they were to be reality but large turnouts and protests and lots of emails, letters, and phone calls can do a great deal to help ensure these fare increases get rolled back alot or get eliminated. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey. (The above are the first 2 of 5 community meetings to be held at different places in Orange County.)


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