BUFFALO, N.Y. - Newly compiled statistics shows that in 2017, some 262 NYS Thruway Authority workers earned more than six figures.
Among those who earned more than $100,000 were several in the Buffalo area, including- believe it or not - a toll collector.
In 2017, Lawrence Stokely, worked primarily at the Exit 49 plaza in Depew earning nearly $102,000 collecting tolls.
He was one of only two toll collectors among the roughly 1,600 employed by the Thruway Authority to earn six figures that year by nearly doubling his salary through overtime. (Another who works near Albany earned $125,000, $70,000 of which was overtime).
About 86% of the toll collectors on the Thruway are part-time employees.
Stokely, however, was one of the Thruway's 227 full time toll collectors and after 42 years on the job his overtime rate was $39/hr. It would mean he put in an average of 23 hours of OT per week, in order to earn nearly $48,000 on top of his base salary.
Stokely certainly wasn’t alone in racking up overtime, as the Thruway Authority paid out nearly $11 million in overtime in 2017 to roughly 3,000 of its employees.
Cashless tolling systems could provide savings in the area of salaries and overtime for toll collectors.
For example, those installed on Grand Island in 2018 presumably would eliminate the need for the three Toll Plaza Managers who in 2017 were paid $254,000 in salary and overtime.
Cashless tolls have presumably also eliminated the need to pay toll collectors there, who in 2017 earned nearly a half million dollars in pay, (including one who racked up an astounding $39,000 in overtime), and whose services there are also no longer required.
However, the savings from cashless tolls could take years to materialize, as the cost of installing such systems along the entire length of the Thruway have been estimated to be $500 to $600 million.
Meanwhile, Mr. Stokely – who began working for the Thruway Authority in the summer of 1975, confirmed for 2 On Your Side that he retired from his full time position at the end of 2017.
However, at age 66, he has since returned to work as a toll collector on a part-time basis.
Reached by phone, he declined our request for an on camera interview.
As you might have imagined, he was busy working.