Not-So-Poor Authority -- Audit Cites Excess Overtime at Agency

Thursday, Aug 18, 2011  |  Updated 7:04 AM EDT
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Commuters packed public hearings to give their two cents about the Port Authority's proposed toll increases. Watch and hear their emotional pleas.

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State auditors say the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- which is poised to vote on a plan to hike tolls and fares -- should cut millions of dollars of annual overtime paid to its workers.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Wednesday that overtime "flows like water" at the agency responsible for the region's airports, seaports, PATH rail system, tunnels and bridges between New York and New Jersey. It also runs the Port Authority Bus Terminal and World Trade Center in Manhattan.

The agency recently announced its plan to dramatically raise tolls and fares to plug growing budget gaps.

The proposal calls for raising the PATH fare from $1.75 to $2.75, and the 30-day unlimited from $54 to $89.

Peak tolls for E-ZPass drivers on Port Authority crossings would increase from $8 to $12 next month, and off-peak would go from $6 to $10. In 2014, both those tolls would increase another $2.

Drivers who pay cash would see a hike from $8 to $15 this year, and that would also increase by $2 in 2014.

Auditors on Wednesday said almost $86 million of overtime was paid last year to 5,360 of the authority's 6,977 employees, most for PATH and the public safety workers.

That's a 3 percent cut from the year before. Its budget specified a 20 percent cut.

Port Authority officials say they're taking further steps, but auditors should also recognize its unionized, regulated, round-the-clock business environment.

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