Agency rebuilding World Trade Center vows reforms
Auditors at Navigant Consulting issued a report Tuesday saying the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is plagued by inconsistent leadership, bad planning and poor cost controls. The audit criticized the agency for failing to rein in spending on the World Trade Center project, which now has an estimated price tag of $14.8 billion. Today, the authority carries $19.5 billion in debt, or more than $1,000 for every person living in the New York City metro area.
David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority board of commissioners, said Thursday that the agency has already begun a second review, with a goal of overhauling the way it plans and finances major construction projects.
He also called for an examination of employee compensation and benefits, which he suggested were more generous than those enjoyed by other public sector workers. The audit had noted that 93 percent of the authority's workers pay no health insurance premiums and that the authority spent $85 million on overtime in 2010, averaging $20,559 in add-on compensation per worker.
"This report is not going on a shelf to gather dust," Samson said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the audit after the agency's board voted to raise bridge and tunnel tolls last summer. Samson, a Christie appointee, and board Vice Chairman Scott Rechler, a Cuomo appointee, said they saw nothing in the audit that suggested that those increases should or could be rolled back.