Nonpartisan group wants better budget transparency at port authority

A New York City-based citizens group has sent a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey urging improved transparency in the authority’s budget process.

Among other things, the Citizens Budget Commission, which labels itself as nonpartisan, recommends that the authority have a detailed budget, a four-year financial plan, an operating budget that is adopted only after sufficient public review, a long-term capital budget updated every four years, and quarterly reports on each capital project.

The authority has come under scrutiny in the last few years. It increased tolls two years ago but, according to some critics, did so without sufficient public input. Public hearings’ locations and times were criticized by some lawmakers as being scheduled deliberately to exclude public input.

Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, head of the lower chamber’s Transportation Committee, applauded the commission’s recommendations today.

“The CBC’s recommendation’s rightly focus on the Port Authority’s fiscal problems and its disturbing lack of transparency for a public agency, which led to the agency’s decision to raise tolls by 50 percent with minimal opportunity for public input,” he said in a release.  

“A recent management report labeled it a ‘challenged and dysfunctional organization’ that required a ‘top to bottom overhaul’ to address management and fiscal problems, and the CBC’s recommendations represent a good start.”

The Christie administration has taken steps to address problems at the agency. Former state Sen. Bill Baroni was named deputy executive director there in 2010. David Samson, a former state attorney general, was named chairman last year.

The CBC letter is available is available on its website at http://www.cbcny.org/.

Nonpartisan group wants better budget transparency at port authority