New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are floating a smaller toll increase of $1.50 this year and $4.50 by 2015 as a compromise offer to the Port Authority's steep hike proposed two weeks ago.
The governors also told the Port Authority Thursday they are willing to approve the toll increase on bridges and tunnels from New Jersey if the agency agreed to have its spending practices audited.
Cuomo and Christie's deal, which Port Authority officials said they supported, envisions an E-ZPass toll increase of $1.50, from $8 to $9.50, taking effect next month. Then, from 2012 to 2015, the toll would go up 75 cents each December.
The Port Authority's first plan called for increases of $4 for the first year and $6 over four years.
Fares on the PATH trains would increase 25 cents a year for four years, instead of $1 next month.
Port Authority Chairman David Samson and Vice Chairman
Stanley Grayson said they supported the proposal and will present it to the board Friday.
In a letter to Samson and Grayson, the governors said they recognized the Port Authority's need for new revenue in order to complete crucial transportation projects in the area.
But they also want the Port Authority to agree to cut spending costs and future capital projects if they were to allow the toll hikes to go forward, they said. Their review of the Port Authority's finances found $5 billion could be saved off the bat.
The governors' proposed plan to "restoring fiscal health" to the Port Authority includes an audit of the Port Authority to "assure that every toll dollar is well spent and waste and abuse is immediately attacked."
"This audit will be twofold -- it will focus on both a financial audit of the authority's 10-year capital plan to further reduce its size and cost and a top-to-bottom management review of the authority's finances and operations to find ways to lower costs as well as increase efficiencies," the letter said.
A separate audit by the New York State comptroller found the Port Authority was already spending too much for overtime.
The increased toll revenue, Christie and Cuomo said, "will allow for the completion of the World Trade Center as well as hundreds of other capital projects that will ensure the safety and economic viability of a transportation system that millions of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans rely on."
The money will additionally help the Port Authority preserve its credit rating and keep tens of thousands of jobs, the governors said.