Fiscal board certifies highway authority’s revised FY 2022 budget
By The Star Staff
The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico announced Monday that its members certified the revised budget for the Highways and Transportation Authority (HTA) for fiscal year 2022.
The budget revisions reflect the updated 2022 HTA Fiscal Plan, and actual and projected performance for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The March 2022 HTA certified budget reflects total consolidated revenues, which includes both operating and capital revenues, of $627 million and total consolidated expenditures of $612 million.
HTA’s operating revenue budget, which consists mainly of toll fares and toll fines, has increased from the budget certified in June 2021 because toll plazas that had been out of service since Hurricane Maria are back in operation, and due to increased toll fine collections resulting from HTA implementing and enforcing toll fines for nonpayment.
Delays in HTA’s construction projects, however, have resulted in overall lower capital investments, meaning $65 million will no longer be invested in the current fiscal year.
“The revised budget puts HTA on a solid foundation,” said the oversight board’s chairman, David Skeel. “HTA must generate the revenues necessary to ensure necessary investments to maintain and improve Puerto Rico’s roads. Safe, reliable and well-maintained roads are essential for Puerto Rico’s residents and businesses, and the continuing economic recovery.”
The revised budget also reflects an $87 million decrease in capital expenditure since the “Abriendo Caminos” program was taken over by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Also reflected in the revised budget is a decrease of more than $53.1 million in federal and non-federal highway expenditures, which remain available to HTA but will not be spent in the current fiscal year due to underperformance in overall capital project delivery.
Overall, HTA’s capital improvement budget is reduced to $369 million, a $65 million reduction, to better reflect the pace at which investments in road improvements are made.
Lagging capital performance reinforces the importance for HTA of improving its capability to deploy available money and hasten required investment in Puerto Rico’s road system, particularly given the anticipated surges in funding from the federal government’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the oversight board said.