A recent audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli showed that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY/NJ) has failed to collect $8.3 million in rent and utilities, highlighting a series of inefficiencies that cost the agency – and thus taxpayers – millions of dollars. The report found that, between January 2014 and November 2019, the PANY/NJ neglected to collect millions from four leases at the World Trade Center, couldn’t prove that it was maximizing advertising revenue at airports because of poor record-keeping, and unnecessarily paid out more than $1 million in property taxes near LaGuardia Airport. The agency also spent $15.9 million to lease and use seven spaces within a half-mile of 1 World Trade Center, even though the building was not fully occupied.

The taxpayer-funded transportation agency, which oversees 45 million square feet of airports, buildings, warehouses and other property, pushed back against the report’s claims, saying they reflected “misunderstandings and inaccuracies” and that its conclusions were “misplaced.” Most of the uncollected money at the World Trade Center is part of a $6.6 million dispute over the utility bills by an unidentified cultural institution at the Memorial, the Port Authority said, which has since been resolved. Some of the money owed was from a tenant that did not pay the full amount when its lease was terminated early at 1 World Trade, which is managed by the Durst Organization.

As for the advertising revenue across its five airports, the Port Authority “conducted regular meetings on strategies to optimize revenues and advertising scope,” according to a letter sent to DiNapoli’s office.

Still, the comptroller asked for more oversight and transparency involving the contracts it has with its vendors, “where it failed to maintain independent records and did not even have a complete listing of the locations where advertising was occurring,” the report said.

Separately, the report found, the PANY/NJ should have charged a private air shipping business for property taxes at Newark Airport, which it did not. The Port Authority disputed that as well, but the comptroller’s office stuck by its findings.

Source: Crain’s New York Business