'Extraordinarily High' Port Authority Police Overtime Triples Some Salaries
NEW YORK CITY — Eight Port Authority police officers made more than $300,000 last year thanks to overtime pay that more than tripled their base pay, DNAinfo New York has learned.
In fact, 11 Port Authority police officers earned more than each of the New York and New Jersey chairmen who jointly ran the bi-state agency last year — at an executive salary of $289,667 each — according to government records and a report prepared by the Empire Center for Public Policy, a not-for-profit think tank based in Albany.
The vast majority of the highest-earning Port Authority employees in 2013 worked for the Police Department — 83 of the 100 on the list — and each hauled in more than $230,000 last year, records show.
With overtime last year, the Port Authority’s 1,477 officers averaged $124,467, the Empire Center found.
The PA police officer salary, one of the highest in the nation, tops out at $90,000 per year, compared to $76,000 for their NYPD counterparts.
One source told “On the Inside” that a PA police officer making $300,000 would have to work a 16-hour day nearly every day of the year to earn the salary.
“It’s not impossible, just pretty close to it,” the source added.
Topping the earner’s list is an officer who collected $330,856 thanks to $230,856 in overtime tacked onto his base $90,000 pay.
The second highest earner was a sergeant who added $216,269 onto is base $107,911 salary for a total of $324,270.
He was followed by another police officer who hauled in $317,802 thanks to $217,802 in overtime, and a lieutenant who earned $312,745 that included $198,647 in overtime on top of his $124,098 salary.
The PA did not immediately respond for comment and a spokesman for Empire Center did not return an email and call.
The Empire Center concluded that PA pay levels for all its employees are “extraordinarily high” even by elevated Big Apple standards. Its 7,401 employees last year took home an average of $98,854, with nearly half receiving more than $100,000.
The PA’s 42 general maintenance supervisors alone averaged $131,557 thanks to $39,220 in average overtime on top of their base $92,337 salary.
Bobby Egbert, a PA police union spokesman, blamed the problem on understaffing and the agency’s belief that it has been cheaper to pay overtime than to hire more cops, which means paying additional health benefit and pension costs.
The Port Authority union has been telling the agency for the past 10 years that it needs to increase the number of police officers in order to manage overtime expenses, he said.
In the past year, the Port Authority has hired an additional 500 officers, which the agency and the union agree should dramatically reduce overtime costs. There are discussions about hiring more officers.
But the demand will always be high because the PA police patrol three major airports, where federal regulation mandates that all posts be manned, insiders said. “If someone is sick, that post has to be filled,” an insider explained.
The Port Authority is also responsible for its Midtown bus terminal and the new World Trade Center.
Under union rules, overtime is handed out only to those willing to accept it, with heavy overtime earners only receiving more overtime when others pass on taking it. If no officer is willing to work an extra shift, the Port Authority has the power to “force” someone to remain on duty, officials said.
The bi-state agency jointly controlled by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie has been beset with woes, including the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal known as “Bridgegate;” security breaches at the World Trade Center by a teenager and “base jumpers” and a failure to get $100 million worth of electronic security fences around airport runways.