NY: MTA Fat Cats Sure Can Use a Vacation

Top MTA bosses are cashing in on a contract clause that allows them to exchange unused vacation time for fat, lump-sum payments, according to documents obtained by The Post.

Five agency presidents padded their six-figure salaries by taking advantage of the perk and "selling" back up to 14 days each. The MTA allows managers to roll over an unlimited amount of ­vacation time from year to year.

Bridges and Tunnels President James Ferrara was the biggest beneficiary in 2011, collecting a cool $17,972.60 on top of his salary of $204,438.26.

Right behind him was subways head Thomas Prendergast, who pocketed an extra $15,894.75 in vacation time in addition to his salary of $295,188.14.

Prendergast also scored a $35,000 "relocation" bonus, which was written into his contract when he moved her from Vancouver in 2009.

With those payments and employer contributions to his 457 pension plan — a 401(k)-type fund for government workers — Prendergast earned $368,082.79 last year. He was the agency's second-highest-paid employee after former CEO Jay Walder.

The only MTA agency president who did not get paid for unused vacation was Michael Horodniceanu, who heads capital-construction projects like the Second Avenue Subway.

It's unclear if he wasn't entitled to the perk, or just declined to use it.

Unlike many private-sector companies, MTA managers at all levels are allowed to carry over vacation time, which can be paid out when they retire.

Employees at the agency for longer than 15 years can cash in 52 days upon retirement, while those with between eight and 14 years can get paid for 48 days. Workers with between one and seven years can take home pay for 40 unused vacation days.

Before 2011, only senior management, such as agency presidents, were allowed to get paid for unused time prior to retirement.

Last year, that perk became available to all nonunion employees. The payments do not factor into their pensions.

MTA managers are now in their fourth year without a raise, while their unionized underlings have gotten annual bumps for the past three years.

In 2011, the Transport Workers Union snagged a 3 percent pay hike for its workers. That comes on top of 2.5 percent pay hikes in 2009 and 2010.

jennifer.fermino@nypost.com

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