LARKSPUR (KCBS) – The Golden Gate Bridge District is grappling with a ballooning deficit. Because of a series of major capital projects, it is facing a shortfall of $140 million over the next five years.

There has already been internal belt-tightening, so it may take a toll increase to balance the books.

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The toll talk, transit officials stressed, was in the very earliest of stages.

“There’s no time line, there’s no amount,” said District spokeswoman Mary Currie.

Still, toll talk was expected in the coming months as the Board addressed the deficit.

‘It’s likely that a toll will be discussed,” Currie acknowledged. “There’s nothing on the table right now. I can tell listeners that because we’re in all electronic tolling mode, we don’t have to increase tolls by dollar increments any longer because we’re not accepting cash.”

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In other words, the toll could go from $5 now for FasTrak drivers to $5.37 or $5.49; the toll wouldn’t necessarily have to be a round, even number.

“That is one of the great advantage of the all electronic tolling that it might be less than $1.00. Typically, we’ve been increasing on dollar increments,” said Currie.

The District last raised Golden Gate Bridge tolls in 2008.

Any time the toll is raised, it’s a long process.

“When the Board decides what they want to do it typically takes six months to eight months to go through the public process and the public dialogue before we can implement a change,” Currie explained. “They will have to look at that shortfall and make some tough decisions and come to the public with their proposed concepts and I’m guessing that would be sometime by January of 2014.”

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