The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offers many opportunities for small to midsized businesses to pursue contracts, its deputy executive director, Bill Baroni, told the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce earlier this week.
Baroni noted at the Oct. 18 meeting that the authority had 2,003 separate contracts last year.
“The board is making sure businesses large and small have (the opportunity) to compete,” he said.
The Port Authority is undergoing an audit of its spending, including employee compensation and rising costs at the World Trade Center construction site, as governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo, of New York, “have made it clear that every dollar, every dime that the Port Authority has be spent wisely,” Baroni said.
Baroni had built a career in state politics, rising from the Assembly to the Senate, before being named by Christie to the No. 2 position at the authority in February 2010. Baroni said he has been overwhelmed by the professionalism of authority staff members in his time there, noting that the authority is under a flat budget for the third straight year, and that full-time employment is the lowest since World War II.
“We are doing more with less,” Baroni said, adding that the organization continues to start work on projects.
When asked if the agency was moving into a period of austerity or retrenchment, Baroni rejected the notion, saying that it plans to complete 60 percent of its 10-year capital plan over the next four years. However, he repeated that the authority is being careful in its spending.
“Please compete honestly and openly for our contracts,” Baroni told the business owners at the event.