EZ Pass’ floating funds keeps public officials honest – Fixie News
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EZ Pass’ floating funds keeps public officials honest

Dear John: E-ZPass has a minimum threshold of $42 and a replenishment amount set at $165 on my account.

At times when I’ve been using more tolls, both these figures have been even higher. In any case, it is holding on to between $40 and $200-plus of my money indefinitely.

Multiply that by millions of accounts statewide — and some people have higher amounts being held.

This is on top of tag fees per device and service fees they charge. Almost no one ever cancels their service and uses up all remaining funds, leaving E-Z­Pass with tremendous amounts of the public’s money — probably in the hundreds of millions, and I’m just thinking about New Jersey.

The money doesn’t get paid to the toll authority, at least until you use your tag at the toll plaza. And the minimum threshold allows guaranteed cash all the time.

My question is: Where is all the money? Who gets to invest it? And in what? Shouldn’t the public own and collect the dividends?

Should E-ZPass be a public company versus private enterprise?

I feel scammed because no one ever has answers when I try to research this topic.

Also, NJ tag holders don’t get the discounts at New York City crossings. I think we should definitely reciprocate the cost of all NY tag holders traveling the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike. Do you agree? J.L.

Dear J.L.: Those are all very good questions. And I don’t have an answer — at least not yet.

I’ve called the Port Authority press people. I am still looking for a contact with the NJ E-ZPass operation. And I’m being stonewalled by the NY E-ZPass press people, who haven’t answered two e-mails yet.

But this is the kind of thinking that 1.) keeps public officials honest and 2.) leads to very big stories if someone is not handling all that money in a legal and ethical manner.

I’m not saying they aren’t. But I am just a suspicious sort of person.

So I’m going to keep pushing on this. And don’t be surprised if your question ends up in the other column I do during the week. It might even be a number of columns if I don’t get the right answer.

Thanks for giving me the idea.

Dear John: I have been meaning to ask this question for years.

When did New York City start giving matching funds to politicians? I have been voting for 60 years, and I never remember voting for this ridiculous law.

Do we really need a public advocate? Because if we do, he should be the first one to advocate for the removal of this useless office and the millions of dollars wasted on it. B.B.

Dear B.B.: I had to look it up, but the NYC Campaign Finance Board’s Matching Funds Program has been around since 1988.

Who knew?

Its purpose: “To counter the rapidly growing cost of running for public office in the city by encouraging candidates to finance their campaigns through small donations from average New Yorkers instead of wealthy special interests.” Think about it.

Under the program, participating candidates receive $6 in matching funds for every $1 they raise through donations of less than $175.

What I guess this means is that people who aren’t rich can get elected to public office in the city. At least that’s what it is supposed to mean.

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