ORLANDO, Fla. — The CEO of Lynx tried to explain how his agency got potentially $21 million in debt, and now a union that represents drivers and mechanics is calling for his job.
At a finance meeting Thursday afternoon, Lynx leaders told county employees Lynx needs more money from them otherwise they will have to make some serious cuts.
Lynx blames not being able to balance the budget on not being able to use the money in reserves anymore.
The reserves were for a rainy day, but it seems the storms kept hitting, and that's how the budget was being balanced.
That well has dried up, so they will ask each county to give more.
Edward Johnson told a room of finance people that the budget deficit at Lynx is due to everything from raises to ridership.
"Across the nation, ridership is down," he said.
But he didn't want to talk to Channel 9, instead sending his CFO, who said a projected $21 million shortfall for next year is a worse case scenario.
"They won't all happen," he said. "We will probably get that down significantly. It's the worst thing that could happen to us. It's a perfect storm, but it won't happen that way."
But the best case scenario still puts them down by double digits.
Lynx had been dipping into its reserves year after year to balance the budget, but now the levels are as low as they can go.
The board told them they can no longer use those as a financial crutch.
So Lynx is tossing around ideas from changing its heath care plan to raising bus fares to fix its finances.
But those ideas would only be a drop in the bucket.
The CFO said that the only way to bring in significant money is to have the counties give Lynx more money.
The counties had capped the amount, but now Lynx says they will have to lift it.
It's something Lynx will have to bring to the board later this month, and it is unclear if the explanations will be good enough for the counties to pony up.
If the counties don't come through in the end, employees could lose their jobs and services could be cut.
It's unknown if counties will give more money, because the board won't answer questions about Lynx's finances or how it let things get this far.
The union that represents hundreds of bus drivers and mechanics said the agency is a mess and it's time to move on, so they are calling for the CEO to be fired.
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