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State public authority pay and employee perks over $7 billion, comptroller reports

ALBANY - New York’s state public authorities pay more than $7 billion in compensation and perks to more than 104,000 employees annually, with nearly $1.8 billion going to employees who earn $100,000 or more, according to a report released by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

"New York's public authorities often operate under the radar and with their own set of rules," DiNapoli said. "While state agencies have reined in spending, public authorities have not been held to the same constraints. The public has a right to know how its resources are spent and what perks are given. Public authorities must do more to show what they spend and why in these challenging economic times."

The report shows that more than 13 percent of staff at the state’s 324 public authorities was compensated at $100,000 or more, compared to 8 percent of state employees. Compensation primarily includes salaries and overtime, with about 4 percent for bonuses, extra pay and other compensation.

Authorities with the highest payrolls include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Thruway Authority and the Power Authority of the State of New York.

Twelve authorities paid more than $6 million in bonuses, with nearly 80 percent of those bonuses paid by the MTA, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Westchester County Health Care Corp. Westchester County Health Care reported the largest individual bonus: nearly $340,000. Public authorities also reported a broad range of other benefits, including participation in the New York State and Local Retirement System in addition to authority-sponsored pension plans, 401(k) plans, deferred compensation plans, and health and life insurance benefit plans. Twenty-five public authorities reported additional benefits for more than 5,000 highly-compensated staff, including car and housing allowances, payment for unused leave accruals, tuition assistance, and club memberships.

Overtime represented 10.9 percent of total compensation, or $762 million. Some of this overtime occurred during Superstorm Sandy recovery.  The MTA paid approximately 86 percent, or $659 million, of the overtime incurred by state public authorities in the last reporting period. Average compensation for all state authority employees was $66,940. Average compensation for executive-level employees was $179,601.  

DiNapoli’s review of state public authority employee compensation is the latest in a series of reports to highlight activities of public authorities, strengthen government oversight and improve public access to information on authority operations.  

The report is based on self-reported data by public authorities to the Office of the State Comptroller. The data, which is not independently verified by the Comptroller, represents the most recently reported fiscal year, and does not reflect a common fiscal year or the state’s fiscal year.

For a copy of the report, visit: www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/pubauth/PA_employees_by_the_numbers_12_2013.pdf