ALBANY -- A new report shows New York's public authorities have added billions of dollars in debt over the past five years and had a balance of $151 billion at the end of 2012.
The 45 state public benefit corporations, established to finance, build and manage public projects, have increased debt $23.8 billion, or almost 19 percent, since 2008.
The report by the Authorities Budget Office notes almost $59 billion is state-obligated debt, an additional $41 billion is owed by the authorities themselves from their own revenues and $51 billion was issued for third parties. A large chunk was refinancing old debt at lower rates.
The Dormitory Authority, which builds and finances projects with tax-exempt bonds for both state and nonprofit colleges, hospitals and other entities, topped the list at $44.5 billion, up $10 billion. That's followed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates public transit systems in the greater New York City area, up $5 billion to $31.5 billion.
The report also shows that debt for 528 local authorities, including 112 industrial development agencies, rose over the same period from $44.6 billion to $68.4 billion, up 53 percent, mainly in New York City.
Authorities Budget Office director David Kidera said the office has more than doubled the total of public authorities covered by the report since the first one was issued in 2007. They have largely focused on pursuing and identifying nonprofit corporations created by or affiliated with local governments.
"We're pretty close to capturing at least all the ones we know about," he said.
The report shows that 280 IDA projects received almost $183 million in financial assistance over five years based on commitments to create 9,100 new jobs but have fallen short by 1,642 jobs.
"We're not saying they didn't create jobs. We're saying they missed the commitment target they promised or negotiated in original agreements in 2008," Kidera said. The authorities have maintained that some of the economic development projects take a few years to create new jobs and show results, and the five-year measure allows for that, he said.