ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo’s top aide battered the beleaguered Metropolitan Transit Authority in a blistering letter sent to board members late Thursday, calling on them to rein in out-of control overtime spending and enact recently passed reforms.
Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, took the troubled agency to task ahead of an emergency meeting scheduled for Friday by MTA Chairman Pat Foye to address skyrocketing overtime costs at the beleaguered agency.
“The situation as reported in the news with respect to possible payroll and pension fraud is intolerable,” DeRosa writes, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Daily News.
The pointed missive, addressed to the six board members appointed by the governor, comes days after The News reported that the MTA is going to the extreme measure of using its police force to take attendance and monitor Long Island Rail Road employees’ use of overtime.
The agency’s overall payroll grew by a whopping $418 million in 2018, according to a report published last month by the watchdog group Empire Center for Public Policy. Some LIRR workers made more than $300,000 a year in overtime alone.
“The revelations on the continued abuses in the attendance system demonstrate again that basic management control is lacking,” DeRosa writes. “This is the most basic management control and there is no acceptable excuse, and tomorrow’s board meeting must get to the root of this problem.”
The longtime Cuomo aide also notes that her own commute is often marred by construction at Grand Central Terminal and raises the issues of fare evasion, a delayed system-wide signal calibration and the “troubling and worsening trend includes episodes of violence and repulsive public behavior in subway stations.”
DeRosa also requests updates from the board on a host of reforms passed as part of the state budget last month.
In addition to congestion pricing, Cuomo and state lawmakers included a series of MTA management overhauls in the annual funding plan, from mandating a reorganization plan by June to additional audits and efficiency reviews of major and minor projects alike.
Cuomo has asserted for years he does not have unilateral control over the embattled transit agency despite appointing six of the MTA board’s 14 voting members, including the chairperson and the agency’s budget director and inspector general.
But DeRosa’s letter makes clear he expects his picks to perform.