Press Release Article


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:

The $3.3 billion 2009 Port Authority capital budget represents an increase of $725 million over 2008, or more than 28 percent. Primary projects for this investment include:

The preliminary budget is being released in advance of the Board of Commissioners vote on the final plan, scheduled for December 17.

The preliminary budget is available on the Port Authority’s Web site - Members of the public are encouraged to comment via a feedback feature on the Web site.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Port Authority Auto Marine Terminal; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; the Greenville Yard-Port Authority Marine Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan and is a partner in the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project.

The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.