Metro's big spending spree --- on your dime
Metro’s gold rush is on. It was announced in the summer of ’17, when most taxpayers were busy with summer activities. Here were the key points:
Metro and USM held a big press conference to announce an agreement between the two organizations, neither of which pays taxes.
Metro contracted with USM to provide essentially the same service that a taxpaying business had been providing for more than 30 years. Metro’s new route takes at least five minutes longer.
USM did not ask taxpaying businesses whether they could provide the same service more efficiently and at a lower price.
The 7 or 8 new buses needed to effect this plan cost $500,000 each and double the number of buses used for the USM student shuttle, thereby increasing wear and tear on roads and bridges.
The new buses have reduced seating capacity.
Metro spent $4.5 million in federal and state taxpayer funding to buy 7 or 8 new buses, which required nearly $2 million of the taxpayers' money, just in Year 1, to operate the route.
The Maine DOT State Transportation Improvement Program set aside two pots of funding in Fiscal Year 2017 for an "urban operating startup." One pot contained $467,381 in combined federal-state funding, the other pot contained $439,506 in combined federal-state funding.
Annual operating subsidies (money from taxpayers) are necessary to sustain the USM "Husky Line" service after the first three years of subsidy is exhausted. MDOT anticipated $813,894 in operating assistance for the Husky Line in Fiscal Year 2020. No surprise, YOU THE TAXPAYERS will pick up the tab.
The agreement called for a minimum payment from USM to METRO of $375,000 in the first year, increasing by 3% of each year of the agreement.