State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is asking the State Thruway Authority to delay its proposed toll increase until his office can complete an audit to determine if the hike is necessary.
"New Yorkers already pay some of the highest taxes and user fees in the country, and the cost of gasoline is expected to skyrocket even more," DiNapoli said Friday, confirming a Buffalo News report that he was undertaking the fiscal review.
"Before the Thruway Authority raises tolls and drives up costs for delivering everything from milk to lumber, my auditors are going to examine whether the toll hike is necessary. The Thruway Authority should hold off on the proposed increase until the audit is complete," the Democratic comptroller said Friday.
Thruway officials want to go ahead with a previously approved average 10 percent toll increase in January followed by an additional 5 percent in the following two years. Additionally, 1.1 million E-ZPass customers would see their current discounts cut in half.
DiNapoli said the audit will begin immediately.
Michael Fleischer, executive director of the Thruway Authority, said the agency's board is expected to take up the toll issue at a mid-December meeting. But even if the panel backs the idea, a public comment period then begins before the board can take a final vote on the matter. That would not be until spring, he said.
Fleischer said the Thruway Authority will cooperate with the audit.
"If there is another way for the authority to deliver on its responsibilities without a toll increase, that would be great," he said.