N.J. toll road workers cash in on millions of dollars in bonuses

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Employees at the state’s two major toll roads were paid $9.7 in extra pay last year for unused sick time, vacation time and holiday bonuses, according to an investigative report in the Asbury Park Press.

Last October, state Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer outlined what he called “$43 million in waste” at the agency including extra pay and bonuses to toll collectors and managers. Boxer said during 2008 and 2009, bonuses alone totaled about $30 million.

Despite the state’s fiscal woes and the scathing report, another $700,000 has been paid out since the report was released.

Some of the payments and bonuses were labeled “snow removal” or “holiday” bonuses, although those employees had already been paid overtime for their work on those days.

In over 30 instances, payouts at retirement exceeded the employees’ actual salaries.

In one example, a district equipment manager making $113,414 retired in June with $134,621 in bonus payments, and a retiring crew supervisor making $88,450 took home an extra $122,082 when he left in April. Both men were at the agency for more than 30 years.

Thomas Feeney, a Turnpike Authority spokesman, said most of the payments were for unused sick time, although separation bonuses of $500 to $600 are given for each year of service when employees retire.

“The Christie administration has said it intends to remove payments like that when new contracts are negotiated this year,” Feeney said.

Now that Christie administration has discussed privatizing toll collection in New Jersey, workers are indicating that they might be agreeable to wage concessions in their next contract.

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