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Capital Metro making changes to meet Sunset Commission standards

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Capital Metro is on track to implement the recommendations of a recent Sunset Commission report, Sen. Kirk Watson assured the Sunset Advisory Commission yesterday.


The audit of Capital Metro came at Watson’s request, and his office continues to work with the agency on a weekly, if not daily, basis, Watson told the commission. The work goes on, even as the agency awaits the arrival in August of new CEO Linda Watson to lead the oft-beleaguered transit agency.


Watson said Capital Metro had already moved forward on the audit’s recommendations, working to address the budgeting and transparency issues that were outlined in the 73-page report and backup material.


“I have been pleased with the fact that they already are in the process of doing that and, frankly, going above and beyond,” Watson told the committee.


Sunset Advisory staff flagged issues it had considered important for the agency to address: bringing expenditures in line with current revenues and creating a two-month budget reserve, contracting out transit services for competitive bidding in order in order to cut costs, prioritizing capital improvement projects, and reporting to TxDOT on rail safety improvements and issues. The audit also discouraged the use of tax revenues as a source of funding to expand the commuter rail line.


Watson noted that progress on audit recommendations was being posted on the Capital Metro Web site. Spokesman Adam Shaivitz said many of the Sunset Commission recommendations would be completed when the upcoming budget is approved in September. Watson said the agency was on track to provide the broader community with a town hall update by early to mid-September.


“Bottom line for Cap Metro is that we have accepted all recommendations and have begun implementing as many as we possibly can,” said Board Chair Mike Martinez. “We plan on coming back to Sunset in September with a full report on what has been put into place and what remains. If members of the Legislature feel, at that time, that legislation would still be necessary, we are glad to discuss any potential bills with them.”


With its vote, the Sunset Commission also adopted a recommendation from Rep. Linda Harper Brown that entailed more thorough reporting of Capital Metro’s budgeting and expenses online. Harper Brown said she had discussed the proposal with the agency, which had agreed to the changes.


For more information, visit the Capital Metro Web site statistics page here:

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