Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been accused by the city’s comptroller of using gimmicky accounting tricks to “hide” nearly $250 million in costs for a heavily subsidized ferry system that had reportedly been used primarily by the wealthy.
“We rely on the city to be honest in how much things cost so that we can make clear, shared decisions about where the money is going. When hide-the-ball is played with any amount — certainly with a quarter of a billion dollars — you can’t have confidence that your city is providing the truth,” comptroller Brad Lander said at a press conference Wednesday.
His remarks came after his release of a devastating 50-page audit that outlined issue after issue after issue with the city’s ferry service.
The audit found that the Economic Development Corporation, the agency that runs the ferry network, “did not disclose over $224 million in expenditures as ferry-related in its audited financial statements.”
For instance, the EDC “understated the City’s subsidy for the ferry operations by $2.08, $2.10, $3.98 and $4.29 for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively.”
In 2020, the city spent $14.57 per every ride, yet reported only spending $10.59. Meanwhile, the mostly wealthy “residents, commuters, tourists, and leisure riders” who used the ferry service paid only $2.75 per ticket.