Gary Dellaverson, then-director of labor relations for the MTA, speaks to reporters during a press conference in New York, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
As the MTA struggles to close an operating deficit of approximately $300 million and reformulated its recently rejected five-year capital plan, the agency will be doing so without its long-term CFO. After 19 years at the MTA and the last three as the agency’s chief financial officer, Gary Dellaverson has retired.
At first blush, the timing of this announcements — noted today in a bond buyer’s trade — would raise an eyebrow or two. The MTA is under fire on all fronts for its financial woes. New Yorkers are irate over threatened cuts to student MetroCard programs, late-night bus routes and off-peak services, and the agency must overcome a shortfall in the revenue projected by the state and collected from the payroll tax. Meanwhile, the Governor has just vetoed the agency’s five-year $28.8 billion capital spending plan due to a funding gap of nearly $10 billion. The money just isn’t there.
Yet, Dellaverson’s departure, definitely ill-timed, was a long time coming. The 56-year-old MTA vet had planned to step down from his post in September, but incoming MTA CEO and Chairman Jay Walder asked him to assist his transition with the understanding that Dellaverson would retire at the end of the year. For now, David Moretti, an executive vice president at MTA Bridges & Tunnel, will assume the job on an interim basis.
As Dellaverson departs, he leaves a very tortured legacy though that is no fault of his. After the MTA enjoyed years of healthy financial outlooks and surplus budgets, Dellaverson became CFO in 2007 after serving as the lead point man for the agency’s labor relations. Since 2007, though, it has been one disaster after another. First, the economy and the real estate taxes upon which the MTA so heavily depends went south. Then, after much wrangling, Albany passed a funding package but did not deliver the money promised to the MTA. Thus, the agency is left with a yawning deficit and a hazy financial outlook.
For his part, Dellaverson did his best to bring accountability and transparency to the MTA’s finances. Living in the legacy of the false charges of two sets of books levied at the MTA, Dellaverson was more than willing to open the books at MTA Board meetings and went in depth in his financial presentations. Those available here on the MTA’s website are a testament to an agency committed to better fiscal transparency.
In the end, though, he leaves the MTA at an uncertain time. Walder has promised to overhaul the agency, and cost overruns plague many of the authority’s big-ticket projects. Meanwhile, the dueling deficits in both the capital and operating budgets remain to be filled. For now, Moretti has his work cut out for him, and whoever is the next CFO may be inheriting a fraught position on a sinking ship.