BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Several New York State Power Authority employees are earning six figures, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's report.
DiNapoli released the report on NYPA's finances, money transferred to support the state budget and expenses related to employee benefits and travel.
READ REPORT | DiNapoli's report can be found here
DiNapoli's report reveals 35 percent of NYPA's 1,636 full and part-time employees earned $100,000 or more this year. The report says 58 employees earned more than $150,000. To compare to other state public authorities, only 14 percent of state public authority employees as a whole earn more than $100,000.
DiNapoli says his Public Authorities by the Numbers report shows "public authority debt has jumped to nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars, as New York relies on authorities to close state budget gaps or to borrow on its behalf, without voter approval."
According to the DiNapoli, public authorities are not usually subject to independent review.
Beyond employee salaries, DiNapoli is criticizing the authority for holding onto a private jet used for employee travel that has both pilots and travel agents on staff.
The audit also revealed that the NYPA spent $2.4 million on 401K matching this year, paid 100 percent of some retirees' health and life insurance benefits, and spent over half a million dollars on its own travel department. DiNapoli is criticizing the authority for holding onto a private jet valued at $6.4 million used for employee travel that has three full-time pilots and a director of aviation on staff.
The authority's mission is to provide low-cost electricity for residents, who ironically pay some of the highest rates in the country.
In response to the audit, the NYPA released the following statement:
Contrary to the report, NYPA's low power rates are unaffected by its financial contributions to New York State. The contributions have been significantly reduced since 2011 and have become more predictable going forward. Such contributions are not unique to NYPA. Other public power utilities around the country, including JEA (Northeast Florida), Salt River Project (Phoenix, Ariz), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power,and CPS Energy (San Antonio, Texas), have been among those that have made contributions in their jurisdictions.
NYPA has a small eight-seat prop plane—not a jet. The plane is used by NYPA engineers and operating personnel in monitoring, maintaining and upgrading the Authority's 16 power plants, more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines and 14 large substations across the state—and only after a cost-benefit analysis of other modes of travel before each flight.The NYPA plane has been of great value for transporting personnel to hard-to-get-to NYPA locations such as our large hydroelectric power plant, transmission lines and substations in Northern New York and for quickly dispatching engineering personnel in case of facility emergencies.
The NYPA Travel Desk enforces government-rate fares for all employees and contractors and anyone who does business with NYPA.This ensures we have the most cost-effective travel arrangements and adhere to NYPA's travel policies and procedures.
NYPA salaries are comparable to other large public power utilities in the U.S., but significantly lower than investor-owned electric utilities in New York State. NYPA must pay competitive salaries in order to attract and retain qualified personnel to run its highly technical and complex generation and transmission facilities.
NYPA offers the lowest cost power in New York State to its customers, including businesses that commit to create and protect jobs.
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