Soon, PAT Benefits will Outpace Wages

According to a budget presentation made to the Port Authority this month, the agency’s two largest expenditure categories of wages/salaries and employee benefits are expected to grow at rates of 24% and 71% respectively from their audited FY08 amounts of $133 million and $108 million through FY15.

What does that mean? It means that in FY08 PAT paid $1.23 in wages/salaries for every $1 in employee benefits. This year the ratio fell to $1.10/1. By FY13, if projections hold, the ratio will be less than $1/$1 with $0.97 in wages/salaries to $1 in benefits. Two years later it will be $0.89/$1.

It would be hard not to argue that PAT is becoming a place for dispensing legacy cost payments instead of providing mass transit service. Pension costs and current healthcare expenditures are going up. Note that the category of benefits does not include the $30 million paid toward its unfunded retiree health care liability. Was this the future that the 2008 contract negotiations envisioned?