The updated report about Rockland County and the MTA shows a gap of $42 million between what Rockland pays and the level of service it receives. County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef announced Wednesday the county had completed its MTA Value Gap Analysis update. It was presented later in the day to the county Legislature’s Economic Development Committee
The report indicated the money paid to the by Rockland taxpayers and businesses increased 25 percent between 2005 and 2010. The value gap essentially remained the same at approximately $42 million. The ratio increased from 0.53 to 0.62 because of system-wide MTA investments during that five-year period.
According to the county executive’s office, the report estimates Rockland pays $110 million to the MTA for $68 million in service and allocations. Rockland receives back about 62 cents in value for every dollar it pays to MTA. Residents and businesses pay $72.1 million taxes to the MTA and commuters hand over $37.9 million in tolls and fares.
“The report provides the solid foundation and updated data we need to now explore the realities of withdrawal,” said County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. “Realities which include two major unknowns – legislative approval at the State level, and the value of MTA’s Commuter Rail Revenue Bonds (CRRB), which given legislative history may have to be undertaken by the County.”
There is no state legislation allowing withdrawal from the MTA but the state Senate and Assembly each have draft legislation pending. Neither of the proposals includes re-establishment of MTA-dedicated taxes for county use and such legislation would be needed to provide operating funds for transit services. If the county wanted to withdraw from the MTA, it would likely to responsible for its portion of the MTA’s Bond debt and would have to repay anywhere from $5 million to $326 million.
The report took into consideration earlier studies and existing data. It updated
the options outlined in the County’s 1998 value gap study. The two possible scenarios evaluated were withdrawal from the MTA and a value gap reduction.
“By following the path toward withdrawal, the County will be able to gain more information and the financial impact on the County can be better determined,” said Planning & Public Transportation Commissioner Thomas Vanderbeek, P.E. “However, this decision cannot be made in a vacuum. There are a number of significant issues facing our County, not the least of which are the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the County’s current financial challenges. “
Vanderbeek recommended the county share the information from its study with Orange County and look into a mutually beneficial decision.
The Value Gap Analysis cost approximately $52,000. No county funds paid for the study. The Federal Transit Administration covered 80 percent and NYS Department of Transportation contributed 10 percent with the remaining 10 percent coming from other transportation dollars earmarked for Rockland.
The County Planning Department conducted the analysis in conjunction
with CS, its on-call transportation consultant. CS specializes in transportation and has specific expertise in strategic planning, policy analysis, transportation finance and economics, and in conducting benefit/cost analyses for public transportation investment decision-making.