SOMERS, N.Y. - Senator Greg Ball (R,C - Patterson) and Assemblyman Steve Katz (R,I - Yorktown) joined forces with Somers officials at Town Hall on Monday afternoon to call for an immediate forensic audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The tag, forensic, indicates a search for facts that can be presented in a court of law.
The MTA payroll tax, officially known at the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax, was enacted in May 2009. It added an additional tax to individuals and businesses within the district served by the MTA and was intended to forestall a significant rise in commuter fares.
“We know that the MTA is rife with corruption,” said Senator Ball. “It goes all the way back to the building of their new headquarters at Two Broadway and before that. Their projects constantly overrun the budget by 200, 300, 400 percent. They have a billion dollar payroll. The comptroller promised us an accounting and never followed up.”
Representing the Town of Somers at the meeting were Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy and Board Members Harry Bolton and Thomas A. Garrity, Jr. Also present was Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy.
Supervisor Murphy explained that in towns such as Somers, “you already pay town taxes and school taxes and business taxes. This is a tax upon a tax upon a tax. We ask the MTA to do the same thing we do in our homes. You analyze your spending practices and decide where to cut.”
She thanked Senator Ball and Assemblyman Katz for keeping the issue alive and fighting to keep it in the forefront. “We are asking for transparency,” she commented. “You shouldn’t have to ask for that.”
Assemblyman Katz pointed out that an MTA tax repeal bill sponsored by Senator Ball has already been passed by the state Senate. “But it has not seen the light of day in the Assembly because Sheldon Silver refuses to introduce it.” Sheldon Silver (D - Manhattan) is the Speaker of the House.
He added that the MTA’s budget is “a black hole. Especially when you consider the kind of service they offer.”
The MTA did not offer immediate comment, but has said in the past that it welcomes forensic audits and that the payroll tax is necessary to avert service cuts and exorbitant fare increases. Last month, the MTA released a preliminary 2012 budget that calls for a three year salary freeze for workers and a 7.5% fare and toll increase for 2013 and 2015. That plan calls for the current payroll tax to remain in place, unchanged.