Port Authority toll collectors not only grab your money at New York-New Jersey crossings, they’re now pulling down stunning six-figure salaries funded by the levies you pay at bridges and tunnels.
Twenty-four toll collectors at the bi-state agency have made more than $80,000 so far in 2011 — payments pumped up by massive overtime. Seven of those workers took in $90,000 or more.
But that’s chump change to the top toll taker.
Warren Stevens has made $102,670 so far this year — $40,614 of it OT.
With overtime paid at time-and-a-half, Stevens averaged about 20 hours of OT per week, or about 130 extra eight-hour shifts per year, an analysis of PA data shows.
Karen DuPree is the No. 2 highest-paid toll taker, making $97,621 — more than a third of it from overtime pay of $37,470.
The annual salaries will only swell since the figures released Friday for all 6,777 PA employees do not include December paychecks.
Princesella Smith, 51, who has made $89,599 working the toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge this year, understandably loves her profession.
“I’m blessed,” she told The Post. “I have a great job, and in this economy it’s great that I can cover everything with my eight hours a day and overs.”
The driving public is a little less enthused, especially after the PA hiked tolls $4 this past summer at its six crossings.
“Any commuter is going to be outraged,” said Cathleen Lewis, a spokeswoman for AAA New Jersey. “Any toll increase should be paying for infrastructure . . . It shouldn’t be paying for excessive salaries.”
Toll collectors — whose ranks have dwindled to 147 as they are replaced by the electronic E-ZPass system — aren’t the only ones cashing in.
Port Authority gardeners are raking in big bucks, too. At least 11 of them bring in annual salaries of more than $80,000.
Michael Finlator has earned $94,106 in 2011 as a gardener. More than $24,000 of that comes from overtime.
Fernando Ippolito, a blacksmith, took in more than $146,000.
Louis LaCapra, the PA’s chief administrative officer, made the most of any agency employee, bringing in $324,940 so far.
Kevin Cottrell, the agency’s top paid cop, made $265,059 in 2011.
The PA — being sued by motorist groups who claim chronically increasing tolls don’t go to pay for transportation projects — is now conducting an audit of its finances.
“The Port Authority is conducting an agency-wide review led by a special committee of its board,” spokesman Ron Marsico said. “That review will address compensation and benefits.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who shares oversight of the PA with Gov. Cuomo, believes more scrutiny must be paid to the agency’s finances and skyrocketing salaries.
“There has to be some rational basis for individuals making their salaries or more than their salaries in overtime,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.
“Management practices need scrutiny at the Port Authority.”
Cuomo’s office did not respond yesterday to a request for comment.
The PA’s 1,300 cops are also getting huge overtime payments, but Robert Egbert, the board of trustees chairman for the union that represents them, said a shortage of cops is to blame. He said the agency hasn’t hired new cops since 2008.
“That’s mismanagement by the Port Authority,” he said. “Their response is it’s cheaper to pay the overtime than to hire the new employees.”