NJ Toll Worker Earns $321,985...
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Auditors say the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wasted $43 million on unneeded perks and bonuses. In one case, an employee with a base salary of $73,469 earned $321,985 when all payouts and bonuses were included.
The audit says that toll dollars From the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway were spent on items ranging from an employee bowling league to employee bonuses for working on birthdays and holidays.
It took place as tolls were being increased.
The biggest expense uncovered in the audit was $30 million in unjustified bonuses to employees and management in 2008 and 2009 without consideration of performance.
One example was paying employees overtime for removing snow and working holidays and then giving additional "snow removal bonuses" and "holiday bonuses."
The Comptroller's Office audit released Tuesday says taxpayers also paid $430,000 for free E-ZPass transponders for employees to get to work and nearly $90,000 in scholarships for workers' kids.
The audit shows turnpike authority employees got bonuses and overtime for working their birthdays and holidays.
Comptroller Matt Boxer says tolls are set for another increase in 2012.
"While tolls are going up, the Turnpike Authority is overpaying its employees, overpaying its management, overpaying for its health plan and overpaying for legal services," Boxer said in a statement.
Public money was also used to cover costs for a toll operators event that none of the authority's employees actually attended.
Another audit finding was that employees were allowed to cash out a portion of their unused sick and vacation days at the end of the year to circumvent the current $15,000 limit for sick leave payouts upon retirement. That cost $3.8 million a year.
Among the questionable legal expenses was a billing for $111,840 for a law firm's weekly internal status meetings that were generally attended by 10 to 15 of the firm's attorneys and two to three of its paralegals.
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