MANHATTAN — The cash-strapped Port Authority, which recently unveiled a proposed massive toll and PATH fare hikes, dished out a whopping $86 million in overtime pay last year, according to the state comptroller's office.
"Overtime flows like water at the Port Authority, and management has no clear strategy to achieve its own benchmarks and goals for curbing costs," state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement Wednesday.
The audit comes just days before the agency is set to vote on huge hikes for PATH train fares and bridge and tunnel tolls, proposals that have been met by major opposition. A vote on the proposals is expected Friday.
"Every agency in this state is tightening its belt," DiNapoli said. "Before the Port Authority asks for more money to fund its operations, the agency should take a long, hard look at whether its business model for managing overtime really makes sense."
According to the report, the agency paid overtime to 5,360 of its 6,977 employees in 2010 — the bulk of which went to PATH train and Public Safety Department workers.
Those two departments accounted for two-thirds of the PA's $459.2 million in overtime from 2006-2010.
In 2009, 24 employees brought home overtime amount that were greater than their base salaries. One employee who earned a base salary of $107,878 reportedly made an additional $153,530 in overtime last year.
Despite specifying in the 2010 budget that overtime costs would be reduced 20 percent, the audit found that the decrease was only three percent.
And while overtime for Public Safety and the PATH system was supposed to be capped at 15 percent, costs were double that on average from 2006 to 2009.
“The Port Authority just received this report and we take it very seriously," the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
"We will continue to cut costs and make sure we value every dollar as we work to meet the region’s needs.”