NFTA responds to state audit
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is on track to incur future deficits, according to an audit from the state's Authorities Budget Office released Tuesday. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on their recommendations and how NFTA officials are responding.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The state's Authorities Budget Office released a 28-page audit on the NFTA Tuesday morning and it's a little more than critical.
"I think what we saw in the audit really validates the steps that we've taken over the past year and a half,” said NFTA Executive Kim Minkel.
But the ABO said the NFTA isn't doing enough to rein in spending and identified more than $3 million in potential revenue.
Most notably, the audit recommends a re-evaluation of certain NFTA employees, saying:
- 165 employees or 10 percent of the total staff performs unnecessary functions at a cost of $13.8 million annually
- Current staff in addition to contracted staff maintain properties at more than $3 million a year
- And it finds 85 Transit Police officers to be unnecessary.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan called for the audit more than a year ago.
Tuesday, Ryan said the audit, which identified more than $3 million in additional revenue, won't do much to help in the long run. He did say, though, its recommendations could act as a guideline for the future.
"In many ways, this audit will be a test for them," said Ryan, (D), 149th District. "Will they be able to read the audit, will they be open to the analysis in the audit and try to do things better?"
NFTA officials say the audit failed to include initiatives and changes made since the review.
The audit says the NFTA will incur future deficits unless more changes are made.
Officers receive an average $75,000 salary. The report finds $10.8 million could be saved annually by using local law enforcement.
"About a year ago, when we decided to reduce the size of our police department, we did have discussions with the Erie County Sheriff's department,” Minkel said. “And we didn't see any cost savings."
Minkel added that 17 positions were eliminated last year as the authority worked to tackle a $7 million dollar budget gap.
But the ABO said another source of revenue could come from collecting rental fees from vendors. According to the report, the NFTA failed to collect more than $43,000 in fees from one vendor since 2010.
"That has gone to collections and we're hopeful that we'll receive that," Minkel said.
While Minkel said everything will be considered, she said the report failed to include several initiatives and cost saving measures the authority has taken since the state’s review.
"There's nothing in here that says change course or change direction."
The report also recommends the elimination of several bus routes, free fares, and stricter enforcement of fines, saying the steps the NFTA has taken alone will continue to incur future deficits.