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August 13, 2010 > Watchdog committee highlights accountability

Watchdog committee highlights accountability

Submitted By Christine Monsen, Executive Director, ACTIA

On July 31, 2010, the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority's (ACTIA) Citizens Watchdog Committee (CWC) released its Eighth Annual Report which notes prospects and concerns for the future and the effect of the economy on delivery of projects and programs. The report also notes that audited income and expenditures were in compliance with specific caps and that no accounting concerns were identified. Measure B, Alameda County's voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, received $113M in revenue for fiscal (FY) 2008-09, the focus of the Watchdog's report. Audited expenditures of $107.9M were allocated to local jurisdictions, capital projects and administration.

Measure B funds transportation projects and programs. The Watchdog Committee was created in the language of Measure B on the 2000 ballot, through which voters re-authorized the local sales tax, originally created in 1986, until 2022. Part of the committee's responsibility is to issue an annual report to voters and taxpayers reporting on the sales tax fund expenditures.

"During these challenging fiscal times, the CWC continues to closely monitor expenditures to ensure ACTIA responsibly delivers on the promise of the plan that Alameda County voters approved," states James Paxson, Citizens Watchdog Committee Chair.

The CWC report states that due to the economic downturn, the result of lower than anticipated revenues will be a cumulative loss of almost $1 billion, or the equivalent of one-third of overall projected revenues.

The amount of Measure B revenues collected reflects the state of Alameda County's economy. ACTIA programs are particularly affected by the downturn. The economic impact on ACTIA capital projects is lessened by ACTIA's ability to issue bonds to fulfill funding commitments as well as significantly lower construction bid amounts.

Programs rely on monthly allocations to all jurisdictions and transit operators in the County, so any economic downturn can have a direct effect on essential services these revenues fund. It can result in cuts to regular transit service as well as senior and disabled transportation services, funding of fewer bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and delays in repairs to local streets and roads.

Since its inception in 2002, the CWC has effected change at ACTIA in a number of ways due to its watchful activities. These include ensuring language in the audit is accessible to the full public; requesting and reviewing separate independent audits on ACTIA's administrative caps; requesting that all audits from ACTIA and the local jurisdictions funds be placed on ACTIA's website for full accessibility by the public; and requesting public and stakeholder involvement on specific projects or on any projects if they become infeasible.

The CWC has watched all projects, programs and administrative costs and the progress in meeting Local Business Contract Equity Program (LBCE) goals. Over the past year, the CWC focused special attention on BART Oakland Airport Connector Project (regarding funding and project implementation after the extension of the full funding deadline to March 31, 2011); Telegraph Avenue Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (to ensure compliance with full funding requirements of the Expenditure Plan); Route 92/Clawiter - Whitesell Interchange and Reliever Route (to ensure the project conforms with the Expenditure Plan); Dumbarton Rail Corridor (to ensure compliance with the full funding requirements of the Expenditure Plan); Administrative Costs at ACTIA (to ensure compliance with cost ceilings mandated by Measure B Expenditure Plan) and Contracting Processes at ACTIA (to ensure opportunities are accessible to businesses in Alameda County).

Overall the report indicates that ACTIA spent $111.3M during the year ended June 30, 2009. $40.4M for public transit, including operations, capital investments and special transportation for seniors and disabled; $27.2M for cities and the County to spend on local transportation including local streets and roads, and bike and pedestrian projects; $33.9M for highway and street projects and $6.4M for administration.

A fund balance of $132.2M is currently committed to capital projects and program expenditures, including $127.1M from previous years, reserved for future capital and program expenditures and $5M designated for future expenditures.

The CWC Annual Report is available via the ACTIA web site at www.actia2022.com as are the Expenditure Plan and audits for each agency. Hard copies are available at the Authority's offices at 1333 Broadway, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612 (telephone 510-893-3347). Additionally, each jurisdiction's website includes information on Measure B-funded program expenditures.

For more information, visit: www.actia2022.com.



ACTIA is becoming the Alameda CTC
The Alameda County Transportation Commission is a newly-formed countywide transportation agency, resulting from a merger of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA). Its mission is to plan, fund and deliver a broad spectrum of transportation projects and programs to enhance mobility throughout Alameda County.

This merger will eliminate redundancies and create efficiencies in planning, programs and project delivery and streamline legislative, policy and funding efforts.

For more information on the Alameda CTC, ACCMA and ACTIA, visit www.alamedactc.org

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