DRPA inspector general could be in line for a raise

Posted: August 15, 2012

The new inspector general of the Delaware River Port Authority will get new responsibilities and a $35,000 raise if the DRPA board approves a recommendation made Monday by its finance committee.

Thomas Raftery, hired in January as the DRPA's first inspector general with a $130,000 salary, will get $165,000 if the finance committee recommendation is approved by the full board Wednesday.

The committee said Raftery would be responsible for conducting internal and external audits and rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse at the agency.

"I think this increase is totally justified," said David Simon, the finance committee vice chairman, who is the designated successor to Gov. Corbett as chairman of the DRPA. Simon cited Raftery's expanded job duties and his "fierce independence."

Committee Chairman Jeffrey Nash said the increase will put Raftery's salary on par with the salaries of chiefs of departments at the agency.

The finance committee on Monday also sent to the full board recommendations for a new health insurance broker and an engineering firm to conduct a new traffic study.

Gallagher Benefit Services Inc. of Itasca, Ill., will be paid $125,000 a year if approved by the full board. The firm was the low bidder for the health insurance broker services. Previously, Willis of New Jersey Inc. had received $298,296 a year for the work.

Willis was criticized this year in a scathing report on the DRPA by New Jersey Comptroller Matthew Boxer for the company's role in splitting commissions with a Pennsylvania insurance company regardless of work performed, and paying referral fees to a prominent South Jersey insurance firm.

Boxer reported in March that more than $1.5 million in commissions derived from DRPA work was shared among "disclosed and undisclosed insurance brokers."

Boxer said Willis paid $455,000 in a payback deal allegedly orchestrated by George E. Norcross III, the South Jersey insurance executive and Democratic Party power broker who is chairman of the board of Cooper University Hospital in Camden and an owner of The Inquirer.

Willis paid the money over seven years to Norcross' insurance company, now known as Conner Strong & Buckelew, and to Michael Martucci, an independent insurance broker designated by Norcross.

The money was paid by Willis as a "referral fee" for securing DRPA insurance business for Willis, executives of that company told investigators.

The Willis executives said they had not sought the DRPA business but were notified in a 2002 e-mail from Norcross that they had been selected, though "neither Norcross nor Conner Strong formally work for the DRPA, have the authority to appoint DRPA's insurance broker, or have any official role in DRPA's decision-making process," the report said.

Norcross told the comptroller's investigators that the money had nothing to do with the DRPA but was for other marketing and referral efforts on behalf of Willis.

The finance committee on Monday also recommended hiring Stantec Consulting Services Inc. of Edmonton, Alberta, for $112,890 for a traffic study.

The DRPA operates four toll bridges between Philadelphia and South Jersey, as well as the PATCO commuter rail line.

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


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