DRPA total pay tops $50 million

Posted: July 16, 2008

The Delaware River Port Authority, deep in debt and preparing to raise bridge tolls and commuter-rail fares, paid its employees $50.7 million last year, and about $3.3 million more in overtime.

That's an average annual pay of about $61,000 for each of the 887 employees.

The DRPA board next month is expected to approve a $1 increase in bridge tolls for cars and a 10 percent fare increase on PATCO trains, effective Sept. 14. The agency says the increases, and similar increases planned for 2010, are necessary to pay for $1 billion in bridge improvements and upgrades to PATCO railcars.

Salaries last year ranged from $213,082 for chief executive officer John Matheussen to $43,513 for toll collectors to $28,379 for mail-room clerks.

The 47 PATCO train operators each were paid $48,568.

The 84 regular police officers' base salaries ranged from $40,643 to $56,700. The 48 corporals, sergeants and lieutenants earned more, with salaries from $61,800 to $85,931. Chief public safety officer Vincent J. Borelli, who left last month after an internal investigation, was paid $174,836.

Thirty employees, including Matheussen and Borelli, made more than $100,000 in 2007, the agency's compensation reports showed. Other top-paid employees included deputy chief executive Robert Gross ($188,310), general counsel Richard Brown ($174,836), and PATCO general manager Robert Box ($174,836).

Cheryl Spicer, assistant PATCO general manager and the wife of former state Sen. Wayne Bryant, collected $158,157. John A. Lawless, the former Pennsylvania legislator who is DRPA corporate secretary, was paid $120,200.

Chief financial officer John T. Hanson was paid $174,836, and deputy general counsel Michael E. Joyce, who will replace Borelli, collected $136,591.

Matheussen, in announcing the proposed toll increases last week, said the DRPA was spending the public's money "effectively and appropriately." He said the agency had cut staffing by 12 percent (124 positions) over the last five years.

DRPA spokesman Ed Kasuba said yesterday, "We feel we've managed our finances prudently." Salaries are appropriate, he said, in light "of the fact that we've cut back over the years."

The DRPA is $1.2 billion in debt, partly as a result of $375 million spent in the last decade on economic-development projects. Since 1999, it has helped finance the Kvaerner (now Aker) Philadelphia Shipyard, Lincoln Financial Field, the Kimmel Center, the National Constitution Center, the Camden aquarium and the Riversharks' baseball stadium, a soccer-stadium complex on the Chester waterfront, and the National Museum of American Jewish History near Independence Hall.

Matheussen said the DRPA no longer will spend on economic-development projects and will use tolls only for the bridges and PATCO.

Two public hearings are scheduled next week on the proposed toll and fare increases:

Tuesday - Main lounge of the Campus Center at Rutgers University-Camden, 326 Penn St., 6-8 p.m.

Next Wednesday - Philadelphia Cruise Terminal, Building No. 3, Navy Yard, 5100 S. Broad St., 6-8 p.m.

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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