The San Diego Association of Governments has officially admitted it has a revenue problem – and that its researchers need to revamp the forecast they use to predict how much money is coming in.
At a board meeting Friday, staff from the regional planning agency conceded that to finish all the highway expansion, new transit lines and other transportation projects promised in a 2004 sales tax extension, it will need to find as much as $17.5 billion from federal and state sources.
SANDAG staff also disclosed that the forecast the agency uses to inform regional planning decisions isn’t reliable. The agency effectively admitted the new tax hike it put on the ballot in November would not have raised the $18 billion they said it would.
After SANDAG staff presented all this Friday, they asked if any of the board members had any questions. Only San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf chimed in — but then she decided against asking anything, because the meeting was running over time.
The result was that no elected officials said a word about a potential $17.5 billion shortfall and any resulting impact on the communities they represent.
In 2004, voters extended the countywide, half-cent sales tax TransNet, and so far SANDAG has collected far less than it expected. At the same time, cost expectations for the remaining projects have increased by $8.4 billion since the last estimate.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Something to consider re:forecast of regional tax revenues- people need to have more money to spend for those to materialize, and wages in this region have been stagnant for years (true in many parts of the country.)
Related: According to this report, as of 2015 SANDAG had over 1500 employees. Here is a link to their salaries and benefits: http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/san-diego-association-of-governments/?page=2&s=-total
Note that their Exec. Director's salary increased from $374,211.82 in 2012 (base salary + benefits) to $404,229.43 in 2015. That's a nice $30K (8%) increase in 3 years- hardly the norm for most San Diegans.
I leave it to Andrew Keatts others to delve into this salary report in more detail, but I'm thinking that at least part of the forecasting shortfall problem from SANDAG's analysis is influenced by the economic culture at SANDAG vs. the reality of regional employment.
These analysts are well-paid professionals, which we want and need in a regional planning organization. But this shortfall, and the way it has been handled at the last meeting, shows they are seriously overestimating regional revenues, suggesting a disconnect from the economic reality of many peoples' lives in this region.
Significant funds issue, but only a symptom of the San Diego Forward Core Plan mismatch with analyses results.
$40billion mass transit capital funds, inconsistent with over 90% of GHG reduction is by improved on road vehicles.
Proof that the extensive mass installation, and community design disruption again fails to solve the mass transit access deficiency problem.
As suggested earlier, instead, making expanded on call Uber, Lyft, etc. 24/7 public transportation, relieves mass transit from off peak inefficient service and allows concentration on a few corridors needing surge support.
Unlike trying to get people out of their cars for 30 years, the Public will use this on demand same vehicle travel direct to real destinations.
The $40 billion mass transit overlay will not be needed.
Let's look ahead, not back.
NOTE: Windows 10 will not allow copy/paste from Word. A fix is supposed to be coming.
A great report on a largely-hidden situation. Yes, we the people must continue to hold SANDAG accountable for their idiocies. Thank you VoSD for doing that!
It's about time we learned that revenue forecasts are exactly that: forecasts. And, no matter how scientific the computer models may be, it IS basically prognostication. (That's just another way of saying "best guess".)
The basic problem with SANDAG is the almost complete lack of accountability of the board due to the manner in which the structure is set up. Being a member of the SANDAG board is a plumb assignment doled out by various city councils. They send one of their members to sit on the board (or, as in the case of San Diego, the Mayor picks a political crony). The work involves planning and spending so far into the future that a current board member is very unlikely to be their position when the money is ultimately spent. If they do a really good job, they get no credit. If they do a really bad job, they are long gone by the time it becomes evident, but even then, they are unlikely to be blamed.
Voters probably never make decisions about the elected officials on the SANDAG board based on their performance there. Thus, saying nothing and deferring to a staff who may be doing a poor job is in their personal, political best interest. They are likely more focused on the here and now in their districts.
The director of SANDAG, Gary Gallegos, receives $410,880 in pay and benefits according to Transparent California. Is that likely to be affected by the failure of the most recent transportation initiative or the poor financial forecasting noted in this article? I think not. I am guessing that Mayor Faulconer’s primary request to Ms. Zapf, while representing him at SANDAG is: Don’t say anything that might embarrass me. Not a great recipe for success.
@Chris Brewster After the failure of the initiative and poor forecasting, Gallegos received a unanimous vote for a $10,000 raise and 4% bonus reward (see page 49): http://www.sandag.org/uploads/meetingid/meetingid_4287_21404.pdf.
One of the real issues with SANDAG is that the Board members are not very diligent in understanding many of the issues that come before them. In addition, the City of San Diego's main representative, the Mayor almost never attends. San Diego has the largest vote on the Board. The staff of SANDAG acts as an arrogant and aggressive group that pursues an agenda which is rarely understood by the public it is supposed to be serving. More people including the press need to actively monitor this group as they are spending a very large amount of our tax money!
Great report. Thank you for this research.
Please keep investigating and asking them how they plan to close this gap. The public will need to approve their proposed solution, and their silence is on the deficit is deafening.
These are the same bozos that just wanted us to approve another half-cent sales tax increase for the next 40 years. Fat chance. And what has the TRANSET Oversight Board been doing for the past 10 years? Apparently having margaritas while watching the sunsets. Time to wipe that slate clean too and install some new people who know the difference between revenue and expenses.