BART directors voted 6-3 today to close the transit agency’s $25 million budget deficit by cutting 74 positions and using $19 million in federal stimulus funds and federal flexible funds.

BART staff members said they’re trying to minimize the number of employees who actually lose their jobs by encouraging some people to take early retirement and by switching other employees to positions that are currently vacant.

Staff members said they estimate that seven people could be laid off by the time the current fiscal year ends June 30.

BART board president James Fang said he’s hopeful that “no one will be kicked out into the street” and that jobs will be found for all employees who get layoff notices.

“Displacement from one job to another job may be stressful, but no one will be laid off,” Fang said.

John Maher, vice president of the BART chapter of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents about 1,500 employees, told the board, “I don’t want any layoffs at all.”

He said emotions are running high among employees who have received layoff notices, even though most will still be employed by BART.

The three board members who voted against the budget-balancing action today were Tom Radulovich, Carole Ward Allen and Lynette Sweet.

Radulovich said, “I’m not ready to approve any layoffs today.”

Eliminating the 74 positions will save $3.1 million this fiscal year and $8 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Two weeks ago, several BART directors suggested that BART could increase its revenues by imposing a 20-cent surcharge on passengers who use the Transbay Tube between the East Bay and San Francisco.

But that idea wasn’t discussed today and has been dropped for now.

The board majority believes that increasing fares would cause BART’s ridership, which already has declined significantly this year, to drop even more.

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