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PORTLAND -- TriMet officials announced Monday that the agency faces a potential $12 to 17 million drop in revenues for the coming fiscal year starting July 1, 2012.

The gap is a result of the ongoing recession, cuts in federal grants and added costs from a new labor contract. TriMet's proposed 2012 budget is $444 million.

We have already cut $60 million from past budgets, but our financial challenges remain, said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. We face some tough decisions ahead and everything is on the table as we look to take corrective actions to close our budget gap and realign our cost structure.

TriMet gets most of its revenues from a regional payroll tax. McFarlane said an ongoing business downturn will drop revenues about $3 million.

The agency gets about $40 to $50 million a year in federal grants for preventative maintenance. McFarlane said there is significant uncertainty on grant amounts for the next year, and he estimated a potential drop of about $4 million.

An exact determination of labor costs remains elusive, he said. Negotiations between TriMet and its driver's union have reached a point where an arbitrator will make a determination next January.

A decision by the state Employment Relations Board that favored the union has been appealed, he said. If the agency does not prevail, labor costs could increase $5 to $10 million, he said.

Because of the revenue drops, McFarlane said the budget review process would begin earlier than usual.He plans to create a budget task force of citizens to assist him. He said that group would look at more efficient operations, possible fare increases and cuts in service.

Suggestions can also be made via phone at (503) 238- 7433; select option #5;email comments@trimet.org; or send mail to TriMet 2013 Budget, 4012 SE 17 Avenue, Portland, OR 97202

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