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DRPA approves 2017 operating budget

The new year will bring no bridge toll increases or PATCO fare increases, Delaware River Port Authority officials said after passing the 2017 operating budget at a board meeting Wednesday.

The authority's overall operating budget increased from $290.7 million in 2016 to $296.1 million for the coming year, a 1.85 percent increase. The major sources of increased costs are related to personnel, with growth in payroll, pension, and health-care costs accounting for $4.83 million of the increase. The authority also increased by $606,000 contracted services. About half of that came from $300,000 devoted to snow removal, something that previously had not been specifically included in the annual budget and was paid with money left over in other areas of the budget, said John Hanson, the DRPA chief executive. The other half of the increase was largely attributable to a shift in how the DRPA hosted its computer server. What had been done in-house has been transferred to a third party, Quintel Management, based in Greenwood Village, Colo.

The DRPA's operating budget is divided into three parts, PATCO, the Indenture budget, which includes debt service, management studies, and legal costs, and the DRPA itself, which includes the expense of personnel and operating E-ZPass' Customer Service and the agency's headquarters at One Port Center.

The DRPA operating budget increased by about $5.6 million, to $99.1 million. PATCO's budget was anticipated to include $56.7 million in expenses, an increase of about $2.2 million, and $27 million in revenue, with an additional $33.5 million contributed by subsidies. The Indenture budget, $140.2 million, decreased by $2.4 million due largely to a nearly $2 million reduction in credit payments.