State Senator John Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), introduced legislation on January 24, which will make the MTA "more accountable to taxpayers and rail users". The legislation would require the MTA, prior to instituting or increasing any fee, rate, or surcharge, to hold a public hearing requiring the MTA to detail why the proposed fee or increase is needed; exactly what rail users will obtain from the fee; and why the MTA cannot provide that service using existing revenues.
"I want the MTA to stand before its riders and justify their actions before any fees are increased," the Senator said.
The Senator said he was disturbed that the MTA unilaterally imposed the parking fee without public comment or going to the State Legislature. Bonacic said when the MTA announced it was implementing a parking fee, he asked the MTA whether they had a public hearing on the fee structure. Their answer, Bonacic said, was that they weren't required to have a public hearing on the parking fee.
"Government agencies at all levels - including public authorities, must be accountable to their constituencies. The answer should not be 'we weren't required to have a public hearing'," Senator Bonacic said.
Last Fall, the MTA announced it would be implementing a $192 a year parking fee. That fee took effect earlier this month. The MTA has been reported to have a billion dollar surplus. Governor Pataki has indicated that the State has a 2 billion dollar surplus and is proposing a wide array of corporate tax cuts.
"The person on the street - and the person in the rail car, is hardly impacted, if at all, by the proposed corporate tax cuts. However, they do feel the $192 a year fee that the MTA is now taking out of their pockets. It is new shoes for their children, groceries for their table, or any number of things that $192 buys each of our hard working families every year," Bonacic said.
Bonacic's bill (S.6521) is co-sponsored by Senators William Larkin and Thomas Morahan.