At Mike McCoy's first meeting as a new member of the Metra board of directors, the former Kane County Board chairman was tasked with locking in the largest fare increases in Metra's history.
In his first report back to the Kane County Board that appointed him, McCoy was tasked with defending an agency wrought with scandal and waste for more than a year.
"Metra has been like a duck waddling around that has been hit in the head," McCoy said. "I think we have the correct controls in place now. Truthfully, the problem was an executive director who operated on his own. That's not the case now."
McCoy said he supports the proposed Metra budget of a 25 percent across-the-board fare increase, but only as a onetime solution to address the agency's budget problems. McCoy said those problems include using money meant for infrastructure maintenance and improvements as funds to support the agency's general operations.
"Going forward, we're not going to have drastic fare increases," McCoy said. "My goal over the next two to three years is that we won't have any fare increases. But I'm not sure what the rest of the board thinks of that."
McCoy said future fare increases would follow inflation trends. All fare increase decisions must be made with a view that Metra is an organization subsidized by taxpayers, only 10 percent of whom actually use the Metra system.
The new budget includes $3.5 million of continued work on the commuter parking deck in Geneva. McCoy said Metra also wants to create an extension from Aurora to Oswego, with a stop in Montgomery, but needs more local government buy-in for that project to happen.