New Jersey Turnpike
The head of the union representing toll collectors on the New Jersey Turnpike says pay cuts were the cause of a suicide. Patrick Kelly, 58 a toll collector at the Turnpike for 26 years killed himself with a gun July 16. Franceline Ehret president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 194 is quoted in the Newark Star Ledger as saying Kelly's family believed he killed himself on account of financial problems exacerbated by Turnpike pay cuts.
New Jersey's transportation trust fund debt is growing rapidly and debt service leaves almost nothing from traditional gas tax and registration fees revenues - shown dramatically in bar charts of the state legislature's office of legislative services analysis of the DOT budget (p26, p23.)
Veronique 'Ronnie' Hakim makes a good speech. Chief executive of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority she was a fine lunch speaker on the final day of the IBTTA conference last week in Jersey City. She's a commanding personality - fluent, witty, confident, and obviously smart.
I was impressed for about an hour or so. After her talk I had to get back home and I drove her Turnpike south to Maryland.
Cashouts of sick/vacation leave at New Jersey Turnpike go back to Republicans - IFPTE Local 194 negotiatorBy Peter Samuel on March 8, 2012
Frank Forst, assistant to the president and chief negotiator of the Local 194, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) writes to correct us. We were incorrect to suggest that the cash outs of sick and vacation leave plus separation bonuses that have recently attracted criticism were "Corzine bonuses."
Last spring's showdown with the labor unions could be starting to pay off on the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. About a hundred fewer toll collectors are now on payroll and the year's operating budget for cash toll collection has been slashed from $69.1m to $53.5m or 22%. Top base pay for toll collectors has been dropped from $66,000 to $57,000 and will come down mid year to $49,500.
Steve Lonegan of the local branch of Americans for Prosperity sees it as his job to speak up for the people of his state who are facing higher and higher expenses supporting various government agencies. So when the New Jersey Turnpike raises tolls by 50% Lonegan is into it. And he's being quoted as saying the people of the state "will now face the highest tolls in the country.”
The drop in traffic and revenues on northeast toll roads has made it into the Wall Street Journal and Business Week magazine. They picked up on the "negative" rating given to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's bonds by Moody's (reported earlier by TOLLROADSnews) and also the NJTA's latest Financial Summary for investors that the first three-quarters of the year saying traffic was down 1.1% and revenue down 1.2% on the same 3/4 of 2010.
Fitch Ratings have assigned an 'A' rating to $275m of new bonds being used for refinancing as well as the $7.72b in outstanding revenue bonds. And its outlook is 'stable' they say. Moody's are much less positive.
Two former toll collectors at the New Jersey Turnpike got sentenced to 364 days in county jail plus several years probation for working a racket with toll tickets.
John Filippine, 58, a longtime toll collector on the New Jersey Turnpike is pleading guilty to multiple counts of stealing toll money as part of a plea bargain. The bargain is that prosecutors will recommend Filippine for a year's jail, payment of $2,282 in restitution and a lifetime bar against employment by a state agency.
Thursday Filippine pled 'guilty' to third degree 'theft by unlawful taking' before a state judge in court in Mt Holly NJ.