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A preliminary budget for fiscal 2014 falls almost $5 million short of revenue projections, according to Virginia Railway Express staff reports.
The estimated $98.5 million budget, about $10 million more than the fiscal 2013 budget, would include the cost of a new 10-car train planned for the Fredericksburg Line when the new Spotsylvania station opens.
The preliminary budget is in the early stages, and much can change before it is finally approved.
According to a staff presentation at Friday's VRE operations board meeting in Dale City, one of the main concerns with the future budget is federal funding, which has some unknowns with the new federal MAP-21
The expectation is that federal funding for VRE will drop, which means the state or VRE member localities, or both, could be on the hook to fill the estimated $4.7 million gap.
"This hole is huge," Paul Milde, a VRE board member and Stafford County supervisor, said during the meeting.
He and Susan Stimpson were the only board members to vote against sending the preliminary budget to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which oversee VRE.
Stimpson, also a Stafford supervisor, said she voted against sending the preliminary budget to make it clear she has some concerns.
Among other things, Milde and Stimpson questioned a projected $500,000 set aside for employee raises. VRE has 37 employees.
Perhaps softening the potential blow of the funding gap is the fact that VRE has a surplus of about $3 million.
The board voted to send the budget, which is considered a working draft, to the commissions.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436