AUGUSTA – Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) Executive Director Peter Mills said today that reforms to the agency have saved millions of dollars in immediate and long-term savings.
Director Mills, a former Republican legislator, presented the 2013 MTA budget to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. He outlined dramatic reductions in Turnpike spending, with the budget dropping sharply from $41.8 million in 2012 to $37.5 million in 2013, a 10.39 percent cut.
The proposed savings include a $2.2 million decrease in employee salaries, curbing what many have seen as a bloated compensation structure that has grown enormously over the years.
Mills cited the example of Maine State Police Troop G, where soon-to-be retired troopers were posted to maximize their overtime to secure higher pensions. Troop G had been the fastest-growing cost center in the MTA budget, but this year its budget will decline about 4.5 percent, saving $266,000.
Also included in the savings is the elimination of all outside lobbying services for the MTA—a total of $300,000.
State Rep. Rich Cebra (R-Naples), House chairman of the Transportation panel, was enthusiastic about the proposed budget. “This was made possible by a combination of L.D. 1538, the MTA reform bill passed last session, and Director Mills’ hard work in reforming the MTA,” Rep. Cebra said.
“This budget puts the core Republican principles of limited and efficient government into practice at the MTA,” he continued. “It’s exactly the kind of turnaround I had hoped to see after studying the worst of the Turnpike Authority’s practices during the reform process last year.”
In addition to savings in the budget for the upcoming year, the MTA under Mills is in the process of refinancing its bond debt for a projected savings of $13 million over the life of the bonds.
The MTA budget will go before the Transportation Committee on Thursday for a work session.