HRT asks cities for over $5 million to make up for ‘budgetary challenges’

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is asking several cities for money as a result of “budgetary challenges.”

Tom Holden with HRT confirms to 10 On Your Side that the agency was $5.3 million over the $96 million budget for last year. That’s what is known as a “true up;” it looks at money coming in and money going out.

There is a true up every year, Holden says, but $5.3 million is bigger than usual, although it’s not yet clear by how much.

Document: HRT presentation on true up overview

Hampton Roads cities share the cost for HRT’s services.

HRT is asking Norfolk to pay $2 million, Virginia Beach $1.6 million, Newport News $1 million, Hampton $640,000, Chesapeake $125,000 and Portsmouth $39,000. The amounts are based on how many service hours the cities operate.

Norfolk City Council expressed frustration during its meeting Tuesday. The city’s interim city manager says it’s the biggest amount seen in years.

“Over the years, we would get notification of a deficit, usually it’s about $85,000. That’s something we can manage, but to get a $2 million true up is unprecedented,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander.

Holden says HRT will refund money to cities if they have more money coming in than going out.

According to Holden, spending was up last year because of an older bus fleet with many buses at 400,000 miles or more. Older buses have a higher maintenance cost. There were several weather events that cut into fares. Overtime is also a big expenditure. If bus drivers are out, they have to pay overtime to keep the buses on the roads.