Port Authority security costs have risen 40 percent in five years
DECEMBER 9, 2014, 10:12 PM LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2014, 10:12 PM
BY SHAWN BOBURG
STAFF WRITER |
Few agencies know the horrors of terrorism as does the Port Authority. But more than 13 years after the 9/11 attacks toppled the Twin Towers, the cost of its police and security apparatus continues to mushroom at a rate some top officials are calling unsustainable.
The Port Authority’s 1,835-member police force is bigger than ever and growing still. Some officers racked up so much overtime last year that they tripled their salaries and ranked among the agency’s top earners. At the same time, the Port Authority is paying an unprecedented amount to private security companies to help guard airports and other facilities. And the costs could continue to climb as the agency assumes increasing responsibility for securing a nearly rebuilt World Trade Center.
When Port Authority commissioners meet this morning, they are scheduled to vote on a 2015 spending plan that dedicates nearly a quarter of every dollar spent on operations to police and security. The $658 million slated for public-safety operations is 40 percent higher than it was only five years ago and quadruple the 2000 level. That growth has come as the rest of the agency’s operating expenses remained flat the last decade, its non-police workforce shrinking.
“Neither the trajectory of the expenses nor the current level is sustainable,” Port Authority Chairman John Degnan said in an interview on Tuesday.