Date: Dec 11, 2008
Press Release Number: 147-2008
To Stimulate Economy and Build Critical Infrastructure, Budget Proposal Calls for Zero Growth in Operating Expenses to Make Way for Record Capital Investment; Agency also Signals Need to Manage Long-Term Spending in New Economic Climate
The Port Authority today released for public review a preliminary $6.7 billion budget for 2009. The preliminary budget includes a record $3.3 billion in capital spending that will allow the agency to invest aggressively in critical infrastructure projects while helping to stimulate the regional economy.
To allow for the increased capital spending, the preliminary budget calls for zero growth in the Port Authority’s operating budget, and zero growth in staffing levels.
While the Port Authority is certain of its financial capacity to fund the proposed spending in 2009, the preliminary budget also makes clear that the Port Authority, like other public agencies, faces downward pressure on its long-term capital financial capacity given the impact of the economic slowdown on revenues it receives from its tunnels, bridges, airports, and seaports, as well as decreases in financial income. As a result, the Port Authority said that it would, over the next several years, need to manage its long-term capital program in the context of the new economic and fiscal realities.
Despite the difficult economic conditions, the Port Authority budget calls for no increases in tolls and fares.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said, "In recent years the Port Authority has made as its mission the rebuilding of our region's infrastructure. Now more than ever, it's important that we fulfill that mission, despite the economic challenges we face. Our proposed 2009 Budget includes record spending on critical transportation projects, like the ARC tunnel and PATH, which will help stimulate the region's economy in the short term and help us maintain our global competitiveness in the years ahead. At the same time, we take seriously our duty to spend public funds responsibly, and as we look ahead we will manage our capital program to make sure it reflects changed economic conditions."
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “We have made disciplined decisions to zero-out growth on the operating side of our budget so we can spend more on the capital side, which is the kind of spending that will create jobs, stimulate the economy and meet our infrastructure needs. But make no mistake, the Port Authority, like all other public agencies, will have to manage its long-term spending within a very different economic landscape.”
In addition to the $3.3 billion in capital expenditures, the preliminary 2009 budget calls for $2.5 billion for operating expenses, $825 million for debt service and $87 million for other expenses, such as heavy vehicles and equipment and computer systems which are deferred and amortized in future periods.
Major highlights of the 2009 Port Authority operating budget include: