Explanation for proposed Thruway toll hike offered at hearing | Business
ALBANY - Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R - Glenville) was not happy that no one from the New York State Thruway Authority responded to his request to participate in a public hearing Assembly Republicans held. "Mr. Director, we had a hearing Wednesday, which we asked you or any of your staff people to show up," Tedisco said to Thruway Executive Director Thomas Madison. "You use transparency a lot. That doesn't sound like transparency to me."
"Thruway Authority expenses have grown at a faster pace than Thruway Authority revenue has for at least the last ten years," noted Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R - Clarence).
Since toll revenue is almost the only source of money to operate and repair the Thruway, spending more than you take in year after year is a formula for just the situation top executives now find themselves in.
Thruway officials pushed past normal restrictions on selling bonds, faced declining traffic and toll payments just at the point when they really needed an increase.
They poured money into a crumbling, lightly used canal system for two decades.
"To often there's a focus on the operational and capital costs of the canal reflected against what kind of revenues it brings in," responded Thruway Executive Director Madison.
Critics complain the canal brings in almost no revenues but soaks up $100 million a year that would otherwise hold down Thruway operational costs.
Current Thruway leadership offered up a complex, interconnected set of reasons why cost pressures are pushing their proposed 45 per cent truck toll increase. There wasn't any argument, just a resigned recognition of how limited control even state legislators have over the state's biggest superhighway.
"In other words, you don't go before the voters every two years after you make a decision," Tedisco said.
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