Albany, NY - You are paying for nearly $7 billion in perks and compensation for New York State Public Authority workers every year.
The report released Wednesday by the New York State Comptroller revealed salaries at public authorities are far out-pacing the salaries of state workers.
New York State has more than three-hundred public authorities which manage public services like the Thruway, some hospitals, and transit systems. Those employers pay out nearly $7 billion in compensation and perks every year.
The top ten authorities in total compensation account for more than 96-percent of the spending, with the MTA paying its employees more than $5 billion a year. Roswell Park and the Thruway Authority round out the top five.
Donna Luh is the Vice Chair of the Thruway Authority Board, and she points out that the Thruway Authority does not crack the top ten when it comes to average compensation.
"I think looking at the report shows that Thruway salaries are in line with other authorities in the state. What is good is that the Thruway is not on the report's list of ten top authorities for average total compensation. The Thruway's not on the list for top ten public authorities for average overtime per employee. And then, I guess for the list of top ten list of authorities for overtime, we are seven," says Luh.
Just to give you some perspective, we found that most of the Thruway toll collectors made between $45,000 and $50,000 a year. We found one who more than doubled his salary and made more than $100,000 in 2012 in total compensation. Meanwhile, a teacher with a Bachelor's degree working in the Buffalo School District would max out at a salary of about $68,000 after 27 years of service. That's according to the Buffalo Teachers Federation.
"We've been engaged in a streamlining effort aimed at making all of our operations more efficient and reducing personnel costs whenever possible. You know, on the Thruway Board, we vote on the budget, which obviously includes employee compensation, and I'm comfortable with our salary structure," says Luh.
Roswell Park validates its spending by telling us it has to offer nationally competitive salaries and that since becoming a Public Benefit Corporation, Roswell Park's Human Resources compensation and benefits package "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 of nearly $340,000 went to someone at Westchester County hospital. This report did not reveal a name, but a report earlier this year from the state's Public Authorities Budget Office said it went to CEO Michael Israel, who made $1.4 million last year. He is the highest paid at any public authority.