Malliotakis Calls For Port Authority To Divest Itself Of Onerous Real Estate Holdings

Motorists carry burden of financial drain resulting from non-essential activities
October 6, 2011

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn), a member of the Assembly committees on transportation and corporations, authorities and commissions, is calling upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to consider selling off costly real estate holdings that add to its fiscal instability. The agency recently increased tolls on all crossings, citing the $11 billion price tag on redevelopment of the World Trade Center as a contributing factor. The Port Authority totaled over $77 million in operating expenditures during 2010, $5.2 million of which resulted from losses on real estate property. In addition to losing money on The Teleport, the agency also lost $1.4 million on the Essex County Resource Recovery plant, a facility that converts waste into energy.

“I find it a shame that, as the Port Authority lost $1.2 million managing The Teleport, residents in the surrounding community must pay the balance through unreasonable toll increases,” said Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island, where the Teleport is based. “These real estate projects are hemorrhaging money and it is the tollpayers who are forced to subsidize them.”

Assemblywoman Malliotakis has argued that the Port Authority should instead focus its efforts on being more efficient. Earlier this year, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued the results of an audit finding that the Port Authority lacked the proper documentation to justify $1.18 billion of the total $1.3 billion in contracts with outside vendors.

“The Port Authority wastes millions of dollars, including excessive overtime and unjustified contractor fees. This agency must find ways to streamline its operations rather than continually coming to the residents of Staten Island with their hand out asking for more. Over the past 10 years, 1.6 million people have left the state of New York, and it is because of regressive policies such as this latest toll increase,” said Malliotakis.

“The Port Authority’s mission is to manage the region’s transportation and port commerce, neither of which are served by owning and securing numerous real estate properties completely unrelated to those interests,” added Malliotakis. “The state legislature closed a $10 billion deficit this year without increasing the burden on taxpayers. The Port Authority needs to explore ways to accomplish the same.”

Earlier this month, Assemblywoman Malliotakis filed an amicus brief with Congressman Michael Grimm on behalf of AAA’s lawsuit against the Port Authority, arguing that the recent toll increases are unjust due to their intent to finance reconstruction of the World Trade Center and other non-essential activities.