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Waste Watch: Thruway Salaries

Updated: Wednesday, July 10 2013, 03:22 PM EDT

Henrietta / Albany, N.Y. - The Thruway Authority enters its second year of cost-cutting measures and the first significant announcement in 2013 involved laying off 234 workers. 

But, a 13WHAM News Waste Watch Report found none of those employees were among the 99 who earn more than $100,000 a year.

The Thruway Authority is attempting to cut $25 million from its operations budget for the second year in a row.  

In 2012. the Thruway Authority attempted to raise tolls for commercial vehicles by 45%.  The move was met by public outcry from those who knew some of the increased tolls would be passed along to consumers.

"It's going to be a very devastating thing to have happen," John Wilson of Silverole Trucking in Henrietta said in July 2012.

By the end of 2012, the Thruway Authority had scrapped that toll hike idea much to the relief of local trucking companies, too.

"That's a very good thing,” David Ciufo of Emerson Express told 13WHAM News in December 2012.  “Our toll bill is about $18,000 a month, so a 45% increase would have been about $8,000 a month which is a lot of money; $100-thousanddollars a year."

That $100,000 a year total is something the Thruway Authority is familiar with.  99 employees make more than that each year.  41 employees have the word “director” in their job title.  That includes a Director of Maintenance and Operations who makes $153,000 and a Deputy Director of Maintenance and Operations who earns $138,000.

Greg Floyd, a senior anchor and reporter for 13WHAM’s Albany sister station (WRGB-CBS6) confronted the Thruway Authority’s Executive Director Thomas Madison about these findings recently.  A summary of that encounter is below.

Floyd:  "You've got a lot of highly paid administrators at headquarters, might you cut there?”

Madison:  "Well you know highly paid is a relative term."

Floyd:  "When I talk about highly paid I'm talking about a lot of administrators, about a hundred of them at headquarters, making $100,000 or more, could that be a place to cut?”

Madison:  "You know there's been a comparison over the years of D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) salaries for example and Thruway salaries and we're different entities we have different missions and the Thruway Authority of course runs a large toll road so we're accountable for cash managementsystems and significant investments so…”

Floyd:  "But, the answer to the actual question, would you consider cutting any of those actual positions, those highly paid positions?”

Madison:  "Well, everything is on the table."

The Thruway Authority raised tolls four times in the past eight years.  When pressed by Floyd the Thruway’s Executive Director stated, "There is no toll hike planned at this time."

When one looks at all the ideas that are on the table, a Canandaigua Assemblyman’s plan to merge the Thruway Authority with the New York State Department of Transportation would likely qualify as one to consider.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb calls legislation he introduced in November 2012 the “Thruway Authority Accountability Act.”  

Kolb believes efficiencies and savings for taxpayers could be realized if both agencies merged operations.

Kolb told 13WHAM News that the salaries revealed in this Waste Watch Report only serve to support his proposal as he believes merging both agencies would certainly allow for a reduction in the number of employees earning more than $100,000 salaries.

To learn more about Kolb’s “Thruway Authority Accountability Act” click here.

The Thruway Authority pointed out that those with salaries exceeding $100,000 have also been subject to a pay-freeze in recent years that has reportedly saved more than $6 million to date and that is why they were not among the 234 workers laid off.

Waste Watch: Thruway Salaries

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