The Delaware River Port Authority on Thursday announced a hiring freeze and said it will cut next year’s budget by 2%, or $2.6 million, to reduce the bi-state agency’s spending.
The budget goal applies to the budget for fiscal 2011, which begins Jan. 1.
Chief executive officer John Matheussen said reducing expenditures will enable the agency to maintain toll discounts for seniors and commuters in the future.
The authority oversees four tolled bridges that connect New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It also manages the PATCO light-rail line, which runs between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Matheussen pledged that the authority will “leave no stone unturned” to save money and enhance revenue.
“In recognition of how important these toll discounts are to our customers, staff will be taking several measures beginning now and into the near future that will reduce DRPA/PATCO operating costs,” Matheussen said in a statement. “These cost-cutting and belt-tightening measures are designed to strengthen DRPA’s fiscal outlook, and with sustained modest revenue growth, give the board further opportunity to sustain these important discounts for our seniors, commuters, and for customers with fuel-efficient vehicles.”
The authority has been under fire for reports of fiscal mismanagement and nepotism. Its board last month approved resolutions to allow New Jersey and Pennsylvania to conduct audits of the agency, implement a compensation review committee, stop the hiring of family members, and terminate the 100 free toll passes that employees receive each year and car allowances for senior staff.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday vetoed certain resolutions that the DRPA board approved last month. Christie believes the reforms are not strong enough.
The governor wants a policy that prohibits agency employees from using the Port Authority’s time and resources for political activities to also include DRPA commissioners. He also wants to restrict former employees and commissioners from seeking employment at agency vendors and independent contractors for two years.
“The reforms I called for, along with [Pennsylvania] Gov. Edward Rendell and numerous other public officials, represent only a baseline of reform needed at the authority,” Christie said in a statement. “Failure to comply with these basic and common sense directives will not restore the tollpayers’ confidence in the activity of the DRPA. The public will not accept activity in place of real action and neither will I. The board and leadership at DRPA must do better.”