Report: NY public authorities outpace salaries of state workers

ALBANY More than $7 billion in perks and compensation go annually to more than 104,000 employees of the state's public authorities annually, a report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found Wednesday.

The report reviewed the state's compensation for 324 public authorities, the often shadowy offshoot of state and local governments that manage public services, such as transit systems.

The report found more than 13 percent of public authorities' staff was compensated with $100,000 or more. That's compared to eight percent of state workers were compensated with $100,000 or more annually.

Overtime represented 10.9 percent of compensation, about $762 million, the report found. That included overtime occurred during the Superstorm Sandy recovery.

"New York's public authorities often operate under the radar and with their own set of rules," DiNapoli said in a statement. "While state agencies have reined in spending, public authorities have not been held to the same constraints."

The report found 12 authorities doled out more than $6 million in bonuses in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which ended March 31. The public authorities with the highest payrolls were the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Thruway Authority and the Power Authority.

Almost 80 percent of the $6 million in bonuses went to the MTA, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the Westchester County Health Care Corp, which runs the Westchester County Medical Center.

Roswell Park issued this statement on Wednesday in response to the report:

"Roswell Park Cancer Institute competes nationally for its physicians, scientists and senior leadership team, therefore it is imperative that competitive salaries and compensation packages meet national benchmarks. Since becoming a Public Benefit Corporation, Roswell Park's Human Resources compensation and benefits package, including a goal-based variable compensation plan, is annually reviewed by a national HR benchmarking company to make sure it is in line with national standards and competitive requirements. All leadership compensation packages are reviewed and approved at the Board of Directors level."

The largest individual bonus was nearly $340,000 at Westchester County hospital. The report didn't say the name, but a report in July from the state's Public Authorities Budget Office said it went to CEO Michael Israel, whose total compensation reached $1.4 million last year -- the most at any public authority.

More than 5,000 public authority staff from 25 public authorities received car and housing allowances, payment for unused leave accruals, tuition assistance, and club memberships, the report found.

In 2009, the state Legislature created the Authorities Budget Office. Its report in July found that 574 public authorities increased their debt 19 percent over five years while creating 1,642 less jobs then estimated in 2012.


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