Smith Demands Transparency on MTA Budget

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The Brooklyn Bridge may not be for sale, but it's one of the East River crossings that has inspired haggling worthy of a Persian marketplace. And the latest back-and-forth between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York State legislature has taken us one step closer to tolls on all East River crossings that are currently free.

First, the transit authority said that a $5 per vehicle toll was the minimum it would have to charge to raise revenue and close its budget gap. Then political leaders like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Mayor Bloomberg floated the idea of $2 tolls. And like a novice bargainer, the MTA agreed too soon.

Senate Leader Smith got suspicious.

This morning, he said the authority needed to agree to a full audit. 'You know they kept two books at a time,' he said.

And then this afternoon the MTA showed them the goods. A press release from Smith's office said the MTA had revealed financial information the state Senate hadn't seen before and agreed to a full audit.

The Authority has requested that state lawmakers approve East River brige tolls and a new payroll tax in the MTA service area by the end of the month to stave off service cuts and a dramatic fare increase.