The Delaware River Port Authority broke with tradition Wednesday as its board adopted an annual budget significantly smaller than the previous year's spending plan.
DRPA, which operates four toll bridges and the PATCO commuter rail line between Philadelphia and South Jersey, will have an operating budget of $258 million for 2013, down more than 6 percent from its $275 million 2012 budget.
The new budget contains no increase in bridge tolls or train fares, and preserves the 50 percent toll discount for senior citizens.
For DRPA, whose spending on economic development cost tollpayers about $500 million over the last 13 years for stadiums, concert halls, museums, and pet projects of board members, the 2013 budget marks a turning point.
"This is a new day at the Port Authority, founded on fiscal responsibility and reforms," said Jeffrey Nash, the Camden County freeholder who is the longtime vice chairman of the DRPA board and chair of its finance committee. "We have heard the voices of the community."
Chief financial officer John Hanson said no DRPA budget in recent memory had been smaller than its predecessor, except in 2005, when the budget was down by less than 1 percent.