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COUNTY TRANSIT AGENCIES SUPPORT SCRTD-LACTC REORGANIZATION, BUT CERTAIN AMENDMENTS ARE NEEDED, BRAUDE TESTIFIES

 COUNTY TRANSIT AGENCIES SUPPORT SCRTD-LACTC REORGANIZATION,
 BUT CERTAIN AMENDMENTS ARE NEEDED, BRAUDE TESTIFIES
 SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The joint board of Los Angeles County's major transit agencies supports reorganization legislation, but Evan Anderson Braude, a Southern California Rapid Transit District board member, told the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday, March 23, that amendments are needed to "strengthen the legislation and reflect the local consensus."
 Anderson-Braude, a Long Beach city councilman, spoke in favor of AB 152, a bill that would merge the SCRTD and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission into one agency -- the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Robert Pressley, D-Riverside, voted 11-0 in favor of the measure. The Senate is expected to vote on it next week.
 The amendments were presented earlier to Assemblyman Richard Katz, D-Panorama City, sponsor of AB 152. They include a provision reserving to the new MTA "the right to appoint or approve the heads of the organizational units ... (including) ... a general counsel, inspector general and board secretary."
 Another amendment requires the MTA to appoint a chief executive officer "who shall act ... under its direction and shall have such duties as delegated by the Authority." A third amendment requires the MTA to "develop an ordinance ... on gift acceptance and lobbying for the Authority members and designated employees."
 In his testimony, Braude said the district is "trying to maintain existing service levels and satisfy increasing demands for service, while facing growing revenue constraints."
 Noting that public financing is at a critical point, he indicated that funding is uncertain for projects in the county's proposed 30-year transit plan.
 "We do not wish to establish a 'two-tier' system in which lower- to middle-income citizens must compete with more prosperous suburban citizens for funding in order to have their transit needs met," Braude said. "We realize the needs of both groups are real and legitimate, and we hope that AB 152 will not result in tilting public funding away from where it is most desperately needed."
 The SCRTD board member reminded the committee that the district's 9,000 employees operate a fleet of 1,900 buses serving some 1.3 million daily commuters in 87 cities.
 "The prospect of job displacement as a result of our merger is of great concern to our employees and their families," Braude said. "An experienced work force is imperative to efficiently and economically operating a system as extensive and complex as the district's."
 He said employees are concerned about the future of the RTD's pension plan which has remained fully funded for 25 years. The LACTC contracts with the Public Employees Retirement System, and Braude said, "switching from one pension plan to the other could result in a cost of millions of dollars."
 The transit agencies are "waiving the opportunity" to claim reimbursement from the state for losses due to the merger, he said, noting that all merger costs will be absorbed by Los Angeles County taxpayers.
 -0- 3/24/92
 /CONTACT: Bill Heard or Jim Smart of the RTD, 213-972-4400/ CO: Southern California Rapid Transit District; Los Angeles County
 Transportation Commission ST: California IN: SU:


EH-KJ -- LA033 -- 1317 03/24/92 19:08 EST
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Date:Mar 24, 1992
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