Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R-C-I, Canandaigua) is calling for a thorough audit of the New York State Thruway Authority to be done by the state Comptroller. His demand comes on the heels of an announcement that the Thruway’s governing board will vote in the next few days to raise tolls by as much as twenty percent over the next three years. Kolb is also calling on the Authority to delay that vote and allow for public comment prior to the proposed implementation.
“I am calling on the state Comptroller to perform a thorough audit of the Thruway Authority because I would like full disclosure of their financial and operating procedures for public review and comment. It is preposterous that the overburdened taxpayers of New York would be subjected to higher tolls without a chance to discuss it,” blasted Kolb.
The Assemblyman questioned the necessity of the hike, citing a privilege granted to retired and current employees of the Authority to use the 641-mile long highway for toll-free personal travel, and an example of where costs can be reduced. “When we have retired employees traveling the road for free, it begs the question of whether there are underlying problems with the culture and operating procedures of the Authority. While contracted employee benefits should be honored, it does not let the leadership off the hook for following practices that unnecessarily drive up operational costs while cash-strapped, toll-paying travelers are being asked to shell out twenty percent more.”
The Assemblyman also pointed out that much of the tolled highway system runs through Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley, where people have the option to take a little bit more time on local and state roads to get to their destination and avoid Thruway tolls entirely.
“Let’s face it – rising fuel prices, taxes and fees have contributed to decreased travel on the Thruway and across the country. Raising tolls on the Thruway is not the solution; rather, it is part of the problem. An increase in tolls will more than likely worsen the budget gap by deflecting daily Thruway users and more truck traffic through our towns and villages, having a direct negative impact on the quality of life in the cities, towns and villages along these state routes. This isn’t Manhattan, where commuters must take a tolled bridge or tunnel.”
“Until we have the opportunity to see the reports of an extensive audit of the Thruway Authority, toll hikes are out of the question for the sake of taxpayers,” added Kolb.