Metro OKs Amended Fiscal 2021 Budget; 1,400 Face Possible Layoffs

Metro’s board of directors on Thursday approved an amended fiscal year 2021 budget proposal that will keep rail stations open until 11 p.m. and improve bus service.

However, the agency still faces a $176 million shortfall. The number is less than September’s projection of $212 million, largely due to $35 million in savings from lower costs for overtime and energy and fuel, but the budget gap could still result in layoffs for up to 1,400 employees.

The agency had projected months prior that roughly 1,700 would be laid off, but the number was trimmed because several hundred employees eligible for retirement will be offered $15,000 buyouts.

“We are trying to push that number as far as we can” to decrease layoffs, said Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld.

Board members praised Wiedefeld and agency staff for adjusting the budget to keep stations open until 11 p.m. instead of a proposed 9 p.m. closing time, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to commend management for announcing a buyout proposal that will essentially encourage people at retirement age with a buyout bonus to retire early,” said board member Michael Goldman, who represents Montgomery County, Maryland. “So there won’t have to be,

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