The New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to submit today to the state Legislature a revised capital program for fiscal years 1992 through 1996, totaling about $9.6 billion.
The revised plan shows a funding gap projected at $3.71 billion, about $520 million less than the projected gap in the plan submitted earlier this year, according to a press release and an authority staff memorandum.
To close the gap, authority officials propose a number of revenue sources, including increased federal funding, fare and toll increases, and a new bonding program.
The authority is attempting to structure a bond that would be similar to the securities issued by the Local Government Assistance Corp., which was established by the state Legislature to reduce and eliminate the state's annual spring borrowing for local aid payments. The corporation's bonds are secured with a portion of the state's sales tax.
An authority finance official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the authority's ability to secure the proposed authority bonds with state petroleum tax funds dedicated to a trust fund is a key part of the capital plan.
In addition, authority officials would like to have a bond that does not need annual state appropriations. Rather, the officials would like to see some sort of lien on the petroleum tax to secure the bonds.
At the moment, authority finance officials are working on the details to obtain a large portion of the $700 million of revenues from the petroleum tax that will be placed in this fund each year starting in April 1993, the authority official said.
By developing this new revenue structure, authority officials say the new bonds will obtain a higher credit rating than old authority issues.
At the moment, the authority's service contract debt, paid through an appropriation of the state Legislature, is rated Baa by Moody's Investors Service and BBB by Standard & Poor's Corp. The authority's revenue bonds are rated Baa by Moody's and BBB-plus by Standard & Poor's.
Finance officials say if they can obtain a dedicated revenue source on the trust fund money, similar to the assistance corporation's lien on state sales tax revenues, the new bonds may achieve an A rating.
The revised capital plan relies on a number of funding resources, including federal aid, bonding programs, and proceeds from refundings and investments.
The new five-year plan, for example, includes $2.67 billion of federal aid, $650 million from the Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York, $1 billion from the city's own capital program, $38 million in savings generated by Triborough Bridge and Tunnel authority bond refundings, $80 million from a state authorized commuter revenue bonding program, and $81 million from the sale of certificates of participation by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
The authority's original capital plan of $9.99 billion was rejected by the state's capital project review board earlier this year.
The board's action followed weeks of acrimonious debate in the state Assembly over the proposed capital program. Authority officials have since sent their time revising the capital plan to meet certain concerns expressed by lawmakers at the hearings, including keeping the Queens County subway extension. This project was favored by a number of state lawmakers from New York City.
The lawmakers however, did approve a $1.6 billion one-year capital program in May. The measure hinges on the submission of the revised 1992-1996 capital plan to the board by today. The authority says it will be submitted on time.