- Published on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 20:00
- Written by Megan Ma - Town Crier Staff Writer
A professional assessment of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) released last month produced a stinging criticism of the agency's financial practices and organizational structure that had Los Altos City Council members nodding in agreement.
Four council members led by David Casas agreed to adopt a city resolution urging the agency to implement, within 180 days, the nine recommendations made by HayGroup consultants, a firm hired by VTA to conduct the study. Los Altos will forward the letter to cities in Santa Clara County, which could join
Cutting costs and providing a "true picture" of the agency's current status is crucial, according to the report. The agency's long-term expenditure plan currently faces a shortfall estimated at $2.9 billion. To continue operation, VTA must stop dipping into its operating reserves and develop new revenue sources, the
"VTA just experienced its own earthquake. This report comes out showing that their house is not in order and that they aren't being financially prudent," said Casas, who sat on the agency's board in 2004 and 2005.
Casas staunchly opposed a proposed VTA half-cent sales tax, a countywide general measure that voters defeated last year.
The "scathing" audit, he said, could hurt the agency's plan to seek a smaller, transportation-only sales tax on the November 2008 ballot.
Casas criticized the agency that he observed during his two years on the board as "operating under political interests with backroom deals."
Los Altos Hills City Councilman Breene Kerr, who currently sits as a VTA board member, said "The board fully intends to follow through with it (implementation of the nine recommendations)."
"There have been problems with the VTA for decades," said Los Altos City Councilman Ron Packard. The success of any future tax initiative will hinge on the manner in which the agency follows through with the recommendations, he added.