DRBA Commission adopts 2021 operating budget

NEW CASTLE — On Tuesday, the Delaware River & Bay Authority Commission adopted an operating budget of $78,965,292 for the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, food services, Forts Ferry Crossing, police and administration.
The commissioners also authorized a budget of $8,568,366 to operate the authority’s five regional airports in New Jersey and Delaware and $627,656 for other facilities operated by the agency. The authority’s 2021 operating budget total of $88.2 million represents a decrease of nearly 2%, or a $1.7 million reduction, compared to its current fiscal year 2020 budget of $89.9 million.
The board action took place at the bistate agency’s monthly meeting held via teleconference.
According to the authority’s chief financial officer, Victor Ferzetti, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on the agency’s revenue expectations.
“With reduced traffic and revenues at the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Cape May-Lewes Ferry, the authority revenues are down more than $26 million,” Mr. Ferzetti said.
“While some improvement is expected in 2021, our revenue projections for the upcoming year are still more than $11 million below pre-COVID forecasts. Working diligently, line by line, with directors and managers, we were able to produce a cost-effective, responsible budget that provides for the essential operation of our regional transportation network.”
Mr. Ferzetti indicated that significant cost savings are anticipated in the areas of vessel fuel ($807,000), contract services ($309,000), marketing and advertising ($280,000), operating supplies ($250,000) and food and retail supplies ($200,000).
In 2021, the DRBA is forecast to generate about $164 million in revenue and will make debt service payments of nearly $32 million. Nearly 80% of the authority’s revenues is derived from tolls paid at the Delaware Memorial Bridge.