CTA President Forrest Claypool reached into his "trick bag" and pulled out about $80 million - enough to balance the 2012 budget without service cuts or fare hikes - and so far without demanding union concessions on "antiquated" work rules.
Here's how the CTA made up the $80 million budget shortfall, according to a Tribune report:
- $44 million in labor expense reductions
- $13 million in lower costs for materials, fuel and fewer injuries from workers.
- $5 million in additional revenue from increased ridership
- $17.9 million in additional RTA funding from higher than anticipated sales tax revenue for the final quarter of 2011
“We bought ourselves some time,” Claypool said. “(But) all the tricks in the trick bag are gone.”
The budget sleight of hand was no surprise to a bus drivers union official, who told the Tribune:
“I have learned not to be surprised about the CTA. Just look at the history,’’ said Javier Perez, a vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union who is serving as the trustee of the international union’s Local 241, which represents about 5,500 CTA bus operators and bus mechanics. The international union took over control of the local last September because of financial and management problems.
Perez said ongoing negotiations with the CTA on a new contract are going “not as quick as I would like.’’ He added, “I don’t know that (Claypool) is still not counting on union give-backs.’’