Wednesday, February 5, 2014
 

 

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Port Authority unveils preliminary 2014 operating and capital budgets

NEW YORK - The Port Authority released for public review preliminary 2014 operating and capital budgets that keep core operating expense growth at half the expected rate of inflation, enhance security at the agency’s world-class transportation facilities, continue the agency’s aggressive resiliency efforts to rebuild and recover from Superstorm Sandy and provide for record levels of capital spending on critical infrastructure.

The $2.9 billion operating budget keeps core operating expenses at half the expected rate of inflation by maintaining non-police staffing levels at 5,143 positions and achieves additional savings through a reduction in employee health care costs and other benefits that took effect over the past two years.  The 1.1 percent uptick in core expenses is attributed to higher insurance premium costs – up $18 million dollars following Superstorm Sandy – and enhanced security guard services at the airports.  The 2014 operating budget also includes a new police class in 2014.

The operating budget also includes new spending to transform the World Trade Center from a construction site to an operating facility.  Nearly 1.5 million square feet of World Trade center office space will come on line this year, a key milestone in the Port Authority’s efforts to rebuild the World Trade Center site following the attacks on 9/11.  Transforming the 16-acre construction site into an open place of business for thousands of workers will require the Port Authority to invest resources to operate and maintain the towers. The 2014 operating budget includes $93 million for new World Trade Center operating costs.  The budget also includes $9 million in new expenses to enhance the agency’s unarmed security forces to provide another layer of protection for the traveling public at the agency’s facilities.

The $4.4 billion 2014 capital budget calls for record investments in Port Authority facilities that will result in more than 23,800 total job years and more than $5.4 billion in economic activity for the region in 2014.  It will allow the agency’s signature projects to proceed on schedule, including the raising of the Bayonne Bridge roadway, the replacement of the Goethals Bridge, the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal Building,  the replacement of the George Washington Bridge’s steel deck, the reconstruction of airport runways and taxiways and the redevelopment of Greenville Yards to accommodate efficient goods movement in the port.  The budget includes $1.1 billion for state of good repair capital projects, which are key to maintaining the agency’s transportation assets.  All state of good repair projects have been carefully evaluated as part of an exhaustive prioritization process conducted by the agency’s operating and engineering professionals.

Including $920 million in debt service, the operating and capital budgets combined total an authorized amount of $8.2 billion.

“This budget reflects our ongoing return to the agency’s core mission with the goal of maximizing every dollar in investment for the region’s infrastructure,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.  “This disciplined budget allows us to do more with less on the operating side, allowing us to invest record levels in priority capital projects that will fulfill our mission of building and maintaining world-class transportation facilities.”

“As stewards of the region’s major transportation facilities, we have an obligation to our tens of millions of customers to make sure they are well maintained, and that we invest our resources in projects with the greatest need,” said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Deborah Gramiccioni.  “This budget keeps our staffing and administrative costs in check, which allows us to invest record levels in our airports, tunnels, bridges, port and rail system.”

The Port Authority is seeking public comment on the proposed 2014 Operating and Capital budgets, which will be available online today on the Port Authority website www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/budget-capital-plan.html. The budgets are subject to Board approval on February 19. The agency is requesting that comments be received by February 14, but will review any submissions through February 18.