Payroll costs for Long Island’s towns and cities increased in 2018 after a two-year period of tighter spending, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by municipalities over the past eight years shows.

Total payroll costs for 13 towns and two cities were $745 million, inching back up near a peak of $750 million in 2015, the data show. Officials reined in spending in 2016 and 2017 after hitting that peak. Yet costs rose by about $9 million between 2017 and 2018.

Average payroll costs were about $30 million higher between 2015 and 2018 than for the previous four-year period, the analysis found. That jump came even as the number of Long Island town and city employees has dropped by 1,737 workers since 2011.

Across the Island, total payroll was $745,042,963a 1.17 percent increase over 2017

E.J. McMahon, research director of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank, said contractual employee raises from collective bargaining agreements and civil service laws likely played a major role in rising costs. The agreements “produce steady increases over time, based mainly on seniority and oblivious to local economic or fiscal pressures,” McMahon said.

“What it means to taxpayers is that the direction of Long Island payrolls has always been high and over the long-term has moved in line with the NYS [New York State] motto: ever upward,” he wrote in an email.

Average employee pay increased by nearly 15 percent since 2011, from $32,657 to $37,483, data shows.

Long Island town officials attributed rising payroll costs to the contractual salary increases, as well as cost of living adjustments, growing health care costs, and payouts for unused vacation and sick time to leaving employees.

“Every year both the police and the (CSEA) get contractual increases, and when their salary’s increased by whatever percentage, then their overtime payments will increase because now it’s being paid at a higher rate,” Glen Cove Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos said. “Also, the health insurance goes up every year, so all those things combined end up making for the increases in payroll for the year.”

Increased overtime played a large role in boosting payroll costs, officials said.

In Shelter Island and Islip, overtime grew from filling in for employee vacancies, retirements and resignations, officials said. In Southampton, employees worked extra hours around the U.S. Open golf national championship tournament held in Shinnecock Hills.

“Overtime cost increases are driven between gaps of employees retiring and the hiring of new personnel, which means the current workforce has to fill those gaps,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said.

In Brookhaven, performing work with staff rather than contracting it out led to more overtime, town chief of operations Matt Miner said. Glen Cove, like Long Beach and the East End towns, see much of their overtime payments come from having their own police forces.

“Overtime is always a difficult thing to plan for,” Glen Cove’s Basdavanos said.

And a series of late-winter snowstorms in early 2018 boosted overtime pay in several towns, primarily from public works and highway departments, officials said.

Only two of 15 municipalities saw smaller payrolls in 2018. Hempstead officials attributed the decrease to a continued reduction in staffing, and Long Beach officials undertook pay changes, including ending the policy of drawdowns of accrued time for active employees.

Highlights of the data include:

  •  Last year’s payroll costs increased for the first time since 2016, when they began declining after spending reached a peak of $750.1 million in 2015. Spending was still about $42 million more than the low of $702.8 million in 2013.
  • Shelter Island, Islip and Southampton towns had the largest percent payroll increases last year, with respective boosts of 6.65 percent, 6.02 percent and 5.81 percent.
  • Hempstead, the largest township in the country, had the largest payroll of all Long Island towns at $169.8 million, about $81 million more than the next largest payroll of $88.6 million in Oyster Bay.
  • Overtime pay increased by 8.77 percent islandwide to a total of $38.4 million. The largest boosts were in Shelter Island and Hempstead, which had respective increases of 42.07 and 41.96 percent. Oyster Bay and Long Beach had the largest declines at 18.58 and 17.36 percent respectively.
  • There were 19,877 town and city workers on Long Island in 2018, 34  fewer employees than the year before. Hempstead had the biggest staff with 3,855  employees. Shelter Island had the smallest at 135  employees.
  • The average pay for town and city employees was $37,482.67. Southold workers had the highest average salary of $58,201.88. Babylon had the lowest of $24,193.13.

With Deon J. Hampton and Rachel Uda

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Babylon Town’s payroll increased for the fifth straight year in 2018, according to a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town over the past six years.

The total payroll was $33,555,875, an increase of 4.06 percent over 2017’s payroll of $32,247,615. Babylon’s payroll does not include employees who work for the town through Red Hill Professional Services Inc., a general services company owned by town subcontractor and former comptroller Doug Jacob, which contracts with the town through solid waste consultant Herbert Greene. The town in 2018 paid $1,794,834 to 34 nonunion Red Hill employees, plus Greene and Jacob — an 8.77 percent increase from the $1,650,149 paid in 2017 for 36 employees plus Greene and Jacob.

Total payroll $33,555,875 a 4.06 percent increase over 2017

Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer attributed the payroll uptick to blue collar and white collar union contract obligations and said the raises are in line with cost-of-living increases.

Highlights of the town payroll data include:

  • The 2018 payroll places the town in the 10th spot among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities while the increase over the previous year was the sixth highest. Babylon had the fourth-lowest payroll cost per capita at $158.
  • The average employee pay for 2018 was $24,193, the lowest among all towns and cities on Long Island and about $13,000 below the Islandwide average.
  • The largest base salary in Babylon was three-way tie for Chief of Staff Ron Kluesener, Town Comptroller Victoria Marotta and Town Attorney Joe Wilson at $145,000. The salaries reflect a 33 percent increase over the previous year. They also have the highest overall pay with $173,465, $172,896 and $164,530 respectively. The total pay includes include stipends for additional duties, longevity payments and payouts, such as for unused vacation days, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner.
  • Overtime increased by 4.93 percent from $1,604,115 to $1,683,264, the fourth-lowest increase Islandwide. The most overtime paid was to Rich Groh, the town’s chief environmental analyst, with $54,797, followed by principal engineering aide Frank Vaccaro with $41,395 and labor crew leader Richard Incandela with $36,890. There were 25 employees who made more than $20,000 in overtime in 2018.
  • Babylon has 89 employees who have worked for the town for 30 years or longer. Twenty one of them are maintenance mechanics from different departments and 13 are lifeguards, including the two most-senior town employees, Terrence Manning and Alan Stanley, who have been with the town since May 1973.

Schaffer said the town aims to retain employees for as long as possible and the long-serving number of lifeguards is a reflection of the town’s policy of pairing senior lifeguards with new hires.

Even though the raises for the three highest-paid employees were a factor in the overall payroll increase, Schaffer said he would “pay them more if I could” due to the responsibilities of the positions and the level of work they put in daily.

Schaffer said because Babylon is a blue-collar town, he tries to keep employee pay “in line with what our residents can handle” and he thinks “the employees believe it’s fair.”

—Denise M. Bonilla

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Brookhaven Town’s $75.1 million payroll was the third largest on Long Island in 2018, a Newsday analysis of payroll data shows.

For at least the seventh year in a row, Brookhaven was the leader among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities in paid overtime with $6,812,085, nearly a 16 percent increase over the previous year. Last year’s overtime remained below the $8,344,567 paid in 2012, the highest for the town in the six years Newsday as tracked payroll data.

Town officials said most of the overtime goes toward capital improvement projects they prefer employees to handle instead of hiring contractors.

Total payroll: $75,158,866 a 4.13 percent increase over 2017

“It’s shown to be more efficient. If you contract it out, the labor rates are more expensive,” Brookhaven Town chief of operations Matt Miner said. “It gets done much quicker and it’s less of a disruption to the community.”

Highlights of the town’s 2018 payroll data include:

  • Michael Kubasiuk, who recently retired from the information technology department after 33 years, was the town’s highest paid employee last year at $172,838 total pay. About $63,000 was a payout from leftover sick time and unused vacation.
  • Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine was the 47th highest paid employee with $116,634 in total annual pay. He received another $8,000 after opting into a health insurance buyback program.
  • The town had 2,025 municipal employees compared with 2,014 the previous year. Town officials said employees often come and go but the overall number has remained relatively flat over the past several years.
  • Average pay for town workers last year totaled $37,115, close to the Islandwide average of $37,483.
  • Brookhaven, the largest town, had one employee for every 240 residents, the highest ratio among the 13 towns and two cities and well above the Islandwide average of 144 residents for each municipal employee.

Town officials attribute their high payroll last year to an increased cost of living adjustment, growth in health care costs and the expenses of operating a landfill.

“It’s unfair to compare Brookhaven to other towns,” Miner said.

—Deon J. Hampton

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East Hampton Town’s overtime spending rose about 21 percent in 2018, a Newsday analysis of the town’s payroll data shows, an uptick town officials largely attribute to a prolonged and exhaustive search after the June 2 small-plane crash off the coast of Amagansett.

Total overtime spending increased from $634,407 in 2017 to $767,376 in 2018, a rise that comes after a 24 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017, the data show. The previous year’s drop was due to a change in the scheduling structure for town police officers, officials said. Of the nearly $133,000 overtime payment increase in 2018, $85,000 was for police salaries, town officials said.

Total payroll: $27,210,658 a 1.94 percent increase over 2017

“Most of our increase in overtime was a direct result of the plane crash response, recovery effort and investigation,” Police Chief Michael Sarlo said in an email.

All four passengers aboard the twin engine Piper PA-31 Navajo — East Hampton residents Ben Krupinski and Bonnie Krupinski, both 70, their grandson William Maerov, 22, and pilot Jon Dollard, 47, of Hampton Bays — died in the crash.

Sarlo also noted increased overtime from the staff hours needed to assist in a narcotics investigation with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s East End Drug Task Force that resulted in 16 arrests in Montauk in August.

Highlights of the town payroll data include:

  • The town’s payroll increased by $518,000 from 2017 to 2018, or 1.9 percent, bringing the total to $27,210,658. The town had 641 employees in 2018, down from 655 in 2017, although the payroll was higher largely because of contractual salary increases.
  • The top 50 town employees were all law enforcement officers, as is common in the East End towns with their own police departments. East Hampton’s top-paid employee last year, and the only one to earn more than $200,000, was Sarlo who received total pay of $220,345.
  •  With a total of $27.2 million paid to workers last year, East Hampton had the third-lowest payroll of any Long Island town. Only Shelter Island, with a payroll of $5,178,315, and Southold with a payroll of $20,661,669, were lower.
  • About half of East Hampton’s 641 employees are seasonal or part-timers. The town’s staff roster swells in the summer with traffic control officers, parks aides and lifeguards to handle the influx of summer visitors.
  • The town payroll is expected to again increase in 2019 as the town raised the pay grades of about 15 positions including auto mechanics and techs to help retain its workforce, many of whom commute from further west where real estate is less expensive.

Despite the season changes, town budget officer Len Bernard described staffing levels as steady and said East Hampton hopes to soon reach a new agreement with the Civil Service Employees Union. The last contract expired in 2018.

“I think we’ve stabilized staffing,” Bernard said. “And salaries are what they are depending on the contracts that are negotiated.”

—Vera Chinese

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Glen Cove’s total 2018 payroll increased by 4.56 percent, the fourth largest percentage change of cities and towns on Long Island, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the city shows.

Glen Cove Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos attributed the increase to contractual agreements with the Glen Cove Police Department and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA).

Total payroll: $20,788,771a 4.56 increase over 2017

“Every year both the police and the (CSEA) get contractual increases and when their salary’s increased by whatever percentage, then their overtime payments will increase because now it’s being paid at a higher rate,” she said. “Also the health insurance goes up every year, so all those things combined end up making for the increases in payroll for the year.”

Highlights of the 2018 payroll data include:

  • The city’s total payroll increased 4.56 percent, from $19,882,628  in 2017 to $20,788,771  last year.
  • Overtime costs crept up 1.24 percent in 2018 to $1,524,622 from $1,505,895. More than half of overtime pay went to the Glen Cove Police Department, as it has in previous years.
  • Overtime percentage of total payroll decreased 3.17 percent from 2017. Basdavanos said that’s due in part to some members of the police department retiring. “When they brought on new hires, they’re being paid at a lower rate, so the overtime rate is lower,” she said.
  • The 38 highest paid employees were in the police department, with 21 making more than $200,000.
  • Chief of Police William Whitton was the highest paid employee, receiving total pay of $336,060. Whitton’s base pay in 2018 was $250,473 with overtime pay of $5,910. He was given about $55,000 in back pay because of a miscalculation of his salary, according to Basdavanos. Whitton earned $258,000 in 2017.

Although a smaller percentage of its payroll was dedicated to overtime costs in 2018 compared to 2017, Glen Cove still ranked fourth among Long Island’s cities and towns, spending 7.33 percent of total payroll on overtime expenses in 2018.

“Overtime is always a difficult thing to plan for, especially with the police because a lot of it is incident based,” Basdavanos said.

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke has been working with the police department and the Department of Public Works to better manage its overtime costs, Basdavanos said.

“The mayor has from day one said that overtime is something we have to watch very, very closely and he does check with his department heads to be sure that they’re keeping a close eye on what’s going on,” Basdavanos said.

—Rachel Uda

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Hempstead Town’s payroll dropped by nearly $6 million from 2017 to 2018, the largest decrease of any town or city on Long Island last year, according to Newsday’s analysis of payroll records.

The $169,809,987 payroll last year in Hempstead, the largest town in the country, represented a 3.37  percent drop from the previous year, although it remained by far the largest payroll of the 13 towns and two cities on Long Island.

Total payroll: $169,809,987a 3.37 percent decrease over 2017

The slimmer payroll came in first-term Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen’s first year in office.

“I’m proud of the fact that payroll is lower,” she said. “It’s about doing more with less.”

Highlights of the town payroll data include:

  • Town payroll costs have fallen steadily since 2015, when they totaled $184,052,970. The bulk of the reductions last year came in the parks, sanitation, and conservation and waterways  departments, which each saw more than $1 million decreases in payroll.
  • The number of town employees also dropped, from 3,921 in 2017 to 3,855 in 2018, marking the fifth straight year of staff reductions for Hempstead Town. The actual number of active workers may be lower as the payroll data that Hempstead provides Newsday includes staffers who retired the year before but continued to receive termination pay in the year reviewed.
  • While the town’s overall payroll is down, its spending on overtime shot up from $1,434,816 in 2017 to $2,036,825 in 2018, an increase of $602,000, or 42 percent. Gillen attributed the jump in overtime to the extra hours worked during snowstorms in 2018 and to the staffing reductions, which required the remaining staff to work more overtime.
  • Staffing on the Republican-controlled town council appeared to increase over the prior year. In 2017, there were 36 active staffers who combined received a total $2,274,000, each listed as working in a council district. In 2018, there were 47 staffers, who were paid a combined $2,521,600, some now listed as working for the “town board majority” or “town board minority.”
  • The supervisor’s office payroll in 2018 included 22 people who were paid a combined $2,097,000 in total pay. That excludes staffers who retired in 2017 but received termination pay in 2018, and those who left in the first days of 2018. According to the payroll data provided by the town, former Supervisor Anthony Santino’s office had nine active staffers in 2017 who received $1,267,440. Gillen spokesman Mike Fricchione said, however, that about nine other Santino staffers were moved out of his office and into other departments in December 2017. In the payroll data provided, those workers are listed under the departments they moved into, not under the supervisor’s office. Fricchione noted that the town’s 2019 adopted budget shows the supervisor’s staff in 2017 cost $2,469,100.

—Jesse Coburn

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The Town of Huntington’s overtime costs increased 12.53 percent in 2018 from the previous year, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town over the past six years shows.

Contractual increases contributed to the rise in the payroll last year, Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said. Additionally, unused vacation time payouts to people leaving town employment made the payroll grow even as the number of employees decreased in 2018, he said.

Total payroll: $63,556,034a .38 percent increase over 2017

And a large number of retirements in 2018 meant more overtime to cover work for the positions that were not filled, Lupinacci said.

Highlights of the data include:

  • Total payroll went up to $63,556,034  from $63,312,698  in 2017, a 0.38 percent increase.
  • Huntington paid out $4,619,444  in overtime in 2018, compared with $4,105,245  in 2017.
  • Overtime represented 7.27 percent of the town’s $194.2 million budget for 2018. Overtime accounted for 6.48 percent of the 2017 town budget which was $190 million.
  • Between 2017 and 2018, the number of Huntington Town staffers decreased from 1,828 to 1,815, a drop of 0.71 percent. The number reflects hiring to replace those who left and vacancies left unfilled.
  • The municipal employee who received the highest amount of overtime in 2018 — $75,917 — was Richard Polocek , a labor crew leader IV in the Highway Department. Lupinacci said the longtime highway department manager helps oversee the town’s 800 miles of roadway during emergencies and is basically on call at all hours of the day. The winter storms in early 2018 contributed to his overtime, officials said. Hiring a new employee for some of Polocek’s work would have to include salary and benefits, and likely not save the town money, Lupinacci said.

Lupinacci said overtime is only allowed when necessary and is constantly monitored to make sure it stays manageable.

“We’re always looking for ways to save costs and improve efficiencies, but I think it’s indicative of what studies have shown from last year: We have a better control on overtime and are always looking for ways to improve and keep down costs on salaries and overtime,” Lupinacci said.


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Overtime costs for the Town of Islip grew 27 percent to $4,210,814  in 2018 over the previous year, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town shows.

Islip spokeswoman Caroline Smith pointed to vacancies for full-time jobs at the town-owned Long Island MacArthur Airport over the years as a reason for Islip’s payroll spike.

MacArthur “backfilled vacant positions with overtime,” Smith said, adding that vacant jobs at MacArthur were difficult to fill.

Total payroll: $52,435,445a 6.02 percent increase over 2017

The airport had 18 full-time vacancies last year, a dozen more than in 2017. The airport has about 80 full-time positions.

Highlights of the 2018 payroll data include:

  • Islip’s payroll of $52,435,445  represented a 6 percent increase from 2017 and its highest payroll going back to at least 2011, when Newsday started collecting payroll data.
  • The $4,210,813 in overtime spending represented 8 percent of the town’s total payroll, the third-highest of towns and cities on Long Island.
  • Twelve employees received more overtime pay than the average yearly employee pay of $32,248. Employees collecting the most overtime worked as security guards at MacArthur, on highway crews or as park rangers.
  • Islip’s highest-paid employee in 2018 was Thomas Owens, who is the Commissioner of Public Works and the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. He was paid $164,709 for the two positions last year.
  • The second-highest-paid employee was Craig Thatcher, a senior airport security guard at MacArthur, who made $137,075 in total pay. He collected $66,884 in overtime, the most in the town. Highway employee John Hillenbrand, a labor crew leader, was third-highest-paid in the town, collecting $136,157, with $54,000 coming from overtime, the second most by an Islip employee.


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Long Beach’s 2018 city payroll of $40,131,576 dropped by $1.3 million compared with the previous year, representing a 3 percent reduction in workforce pay, a Newsday analysis of the city’s payroll data shows.

More than 40 of the city’s top-paid employees in 2018 were current and retired police officers, including Police Commissioner and then-Acting City Manager Michael Tangney, who was paid $233,427 as commissioner, but did not take an additional city manager salary.

Total payroll: $40,131,576a 3.14 percent decrease over 2017

Several top employees, including Tangney and Corporation Counsel and now-Acting City Manager Rob Agostisi saw their pay drop in 2018 after it nearly doubled in 2017 from payouts of accrued vacation and sick time. Separation payments to more than a dozen current and former employees, including past City Manager Jack Schnirman, are being audited by the state comptroller.

The city ended the policy of drawdowns of accrued time for active employees in early 2018, but paid $1.9 million for retirement and separation payments in 2018 to workers who left municipal employment. Separation payments last year fell 17 percent from $2.3 million paid in 2017.

Overtime was decreased after filling several police officer positions that had been covered by overtime shifts, Agostisi said.

The city reached an agreement to limit fire department overtime and curbed $60,000 in police overtime and $126,000 in temporary employee salaries in the 2018-19 budget.

Highlights of the city payroll data include:

  • The top paid employee in the city was Sgt. Lee Nielsen in the city police department, who led the payroll for the second straight year. He was paid $295,810 in 2018, including $115,223 in overtime, the most of any city employee.
  • Long Beach had the second highest percentage of overtime as part of its payroll, behind Brookhaven Town. It ranked fifth on Long Island in total overtime spending at $3.3 million.
  • The city paid $12,914,562 to active police and law enforcement staff, including 69 officers, sergeants and lieutenants.
  • Agostisi was the top civilian employee with total pay of $164,655, followed by Beach Maintenance Superintendent Thomas Canner, who was paid $162,851.
  • Long Beach’s workforce decreased by 88 employees, or 5.6 percent, down to 1,484 employees.


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The Town of North Hempstead recorded the second-lowest payroll increase among all Long Island towns and cities in 2018, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town over the past six years shows.

Last year’s town payroll was $35,154,380, an increase of 0.86 percent from 2017, the data show.

The slight increase stems from Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth being “very cognizant of the fact that we work for the taxpayers of North Hempstead,” town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said. “We work to provide the best services possible while also paying our employees a competitive salary.”

Total payroll: $35,154,380a .86 percent increase over 2017

North Hempstead’s average salary for 2018 was $37,200 compared to Oyster Bay Town’s $39,588 and Hempstead Town’s $44,049. The Islandwide average salary was $37,483.

Highlights of the town payroll data include:

  • North Hempstead Town spent $1,786,531 in overtime in 2018, a 4.7 percent increase from 2017,   making it the lowest increase in overtime among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities. In 2017, overtime pay fell 6.4 percent in North Hempstead.
  • Antonio Giammarino and Bryan Borra, two lead auto mechanics in the town’s public works department, received the most overtime among town employees in 2018 with Giammarino collecting $44,953 and Borra collecting $40,319. Highway Department maintenance supervisor Charles Poole Jr. was the third-most overtime collector with $38,175.
  • The Public Works Department, which includes employees from the highway division, collected the most overtime pay in 2018 with a total of $984,436. The 118-person staff is the second-largest town department, behind  the Parks Department at 420 people.
  •   Commissioner of Planning and Development Michael Levine received the highest total compensation in 2018 with $153,247. Levine oversees the town’s planning department and does not receive overtime pay. Trailing him were former town attorney Elizabeth Botwin with $152,949 and deputy public works commissioner Joseph Geraci with $143,263.
  • Supervisor Judi Bosworth was the eighth highest paid town employee with $135,800 in total compensation.
  • The auto mechanics saw heavy overtime because of a town work rule that has been in effect for 25 years, Trottere said. The rule states that whenever there are four or more pieces of town equipment working on a road, there must be mechanics on site as well.

“In 2018 there were many snow events and thus the OT hours resulted in the numbers you see,” Trottere said of the highway department.


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Oyster Bay increased its part-time workforce in 2018, hiring 122 part-time sanitation workers after amending the union contract that had prohibited them in that department as well as in public safety.

Under last year’s agreement with the union, the part-timers are now represented by the union but don’t have the same benefits or protections as full-time employees. Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr. said having part-timers in sanitation “eliminated overtime expense in the sanitation department for regular sanitation pickup.”

Total payroll: $88,676,533a 2.20 percent increase over 2017

Highlights of the town payroll data include:

  • The total number of full-time, part-time and seasonal positions in 2018 increased to 2,240 from 2,123 the previous year.
  • The number of part-time positions increased to 438 in 2018 from 338 in 2017.
  • The number of full-time positions stayed essentially flat, decreasing by two to 1,079 in 2018 from 1,081.
  • Payroll costs went up in 2018 to $88,676,533  from $86,768,604 the previous year.
  • Overtime costs fell to $4,577,944  from $5,622,662.

While overtime pay was down overall, the picture was uneven among departments with overtime pay falling sharply for sanitation workers while most other departments saw increases.

Last year the town also ended a temporary 2 percent pay cut in July, six months earlier than required under the contract, and approved raises for more than 100 employees.

—Ted Phillips

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Riverhead Town saw its overall overtime costs rise again from $1,173,769 in 2017 to $1,414,684 in 2018, a 20.5 percent increase, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town over the past six years shows.

Police generated the most in overtime costs in 2018, paying $1,035,782 to its staff — a nearly 0.3 percent increase from the $1,033,108  in overtime issued in 2017. That year, overall overtime payments decreased but police overtime grew.

Total payroll: $29,207,004a 1.74 percent increase over 2017

William Rothaar, Riverhead’s financial administrator, said the increase in 11 employees of the town’s 564 workers in 2018 is a count of all those who received a W-2 for 2018. “That could be either more seasonal during the year or two employees on the payroll for one position due to an employee retiring or resigning,” Rothaar said.

Highlights of the town’s 2018 payroll data include:

  • As with the year before, the town’s highway department paid the second-highest amount in overtime at $102,587. The payments represented a 63.7 percent increase from the $62,666 highway workers were paid in overtime the year before.
  • The police, highway and engineering departments paid the highest in total salaries for 2018.
  • Police paid its staff a total of $14,804,169 in 2018, while highway staff made a cumulative $2,355,483. Engineering made the third highest of all town departments, with staff getting paid a total of $1,931,431.
  • Riverhead added the third-highest amount of overall staff among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities in 2018, adding 11 positions overall to bring its total paid town staff from 553 in 2017 to 564 in 2018.
  • The town had the third-lowest percent change among average salaries on Long Island in 2018. Riverhead’s average salary of $51,913 in 2017 went down by $128, or 0.25 percent, to $51,785 in 2018.

—Jean-Paul Salamanca

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A wave of retirements and resignations in Shelter Island last year drove up overtime spending and overall payroll costs, town officials said.

Long Island’s smallest town recorded the biggest percentage increases in payroll and overtime among the Island’s 13 towns and two cities, a Newsday analysis of payroll data shows.

Total payroll: $5,178,315a 6.65 percent increase over 2017

Shelter Island officials said the town spent more on overtime pay last year because of a net loss of 10 employees. One town employee died, three police officers retired and two highway department workers resigned, Town Supervisor Gary Gerth said, adding all of the vacancies have been filled.

“We really have a fairly small work force, so we can’t let the jobs go unfilled,” he said.

Gerth attributed the spike in overtime to remaining employees working additional hours to compensate for workers who resigned or retired.

The town has added one new position, a leader for the office of senior services, Gerth said.

Gerth said the town plans to offer workers merit pay and salary increases to address concerns that town employees can’t afford to live on the pricey East End.

“That’s kind of the way it’s been the last decade. We’ve tried to remediate that,” Gerth said. “We have a great work force and I’m not out to balance the budget on the backs of the workers.”

Highlights of the Shelter Island town payroll include:

  • Overall spending on employee salaries increased by 6.65  percent, the largest on Long Island, from $4,855,525  in 2017 to $5,178,315  last year. Even with the increase, Shelter Island had by far Long Island’s lowest town payroll; Southold, at $20.6 million, had the next lowest payroll, data show.
  • Shelter Island increased overtime spending from $216,857  in 2017 to $308,088  last year, or 42.07 percent — the highest percentage increase on Long Island.
  • The town work force shrank from 145 in 2017 to 135 last year, or 6.9 percent, Long Island’s biggest percentage dip in employment. Shelter Island spent 5.95 percent of its payroll on overtime pay last year, data show.
  • Shelter Island’s highest-paid employee last year was police Det. Sgt. Jack Thilberg, who was paid $217,782, including $61,619 in overtime. Police Chief James Read was the next-highest paid, at $215,810.
  • Increased overtime helped boost average pay in Shelter Island by 14.55 percent, the biggest jump on Long Island. The average worker saw his or her salary rise from $33,486 in 2017 to $38,357 in 2018, data show. That average salary ranks Shelter Island seventh among Long Island towns, behind Southold, Southampton, Riverhead, Oyster Bay, Hempstead and East Hampton.

—Carl MacGowan

To see details of the payroll and search the database, go to


Total compensation for Smithtown employees edged up 2.5  percent last year, from $36,594,925  to $37,495,741, with overtime pay up 25 percent, from $1,386,332  to $1,739,090, a Newsday analysis of town payroll data shows.

That increase is the highest overtime total since 2012, when employees responded to superstorm Sandy.

The increase was partly because workers in the Highway, Public Safety and Parks departments responded to three nor’easters last year, Comptroller Donald Musgnug said in an email. The supervisors and foremen who responded to those and other emergencies were among the top overtime earners.

Total payroll: $37,495,741a 2.46 percent increase over 2017

“We send our most experienced employees on sometime dangerous and complex situations,” Musgnug wrote. Low staffing and higher pay rates for senior staff under collective bargaining agreements with unions were also factors, he wrote.

Highlights of town’s payroll data include:

  • Peter O’Connor, the auto mechanic in charge of repairs for the Highway Department, added $22,662 in overtime to his $102,481 base pay. “He is responsible for getting as much of the fleet on the road as possible in a short amount of time” before, during and after storms, Musgnug wrote. Catherine Caillat, an ordinance enforcement officer with a $110,198 base pay, was paid $14,413 in overtime. She leads a team creating a database of zombie homes in Smithtown.
  • Vacation buybacks increased. This category, which the town did not include in the payrolls it shared with Newsday until last year, includes compensation for employees who work instead of taking some of their vacation days and take the pay for the unused time. In 2017, the town paid $76,750 to 23 employees; in 2018, it paid $89,750 to 28 employees. Buybacks for department heads and administrators, who are generally not eligible for overtime, can save the town money because workers get paid at current rates instead of higher rates when they leave town jobs, Musgnug said. The town has permitted management to use buybacks since 1996 and this year opened the program to rank-and-file employees on an experimental basis because of the potential savings.
  • In 2018 the town paid $390,547 in “other pay,” a category that includes night differential, retroactive pay and money for additional duties. At the top end, Councilman Thomas J. McCarthy augmented his $65,818 base pay with $35,000 for his work as deputy supervisor. Other recipients include Town Clerk Vincent Puleo, who added $25,00 to his $72,116 base pay for his work as registrar of vital statistics, and Musgnug, who added $20,637 to his $120,206 base pay for his work as budget officer.

—Nicholas Spangler

To see details of the payroll and search the database, go to


Southampton Town recorded its highest recent payroll in 2018, with a nearly 6 percent increase over the previous year’s payroll and a 38 percent jump in overtime pay, a Newsday analysis of payroll data provided by the town over the past six years shows.

That increase is thanks to the U.S. Open golf national championship tournament, held last June at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese said.

Total payroll: $46,022,109a 5.81 percent increase over 2017

“Because we had the U.S. Open last year, so everybody worked on overtime,” he said in a phone interview. “Police, code enforcement, highway … pretty much almost everybody was involved with it in some aspect of it, to manage those four weeks of activity.”

Marchese said the United States Golf Association paid the town $743,000 toward its personnel and overtime costs during the U.S. Open. But last year’s overtime pay was an anomaly and this year’s payroll expenses look to be normal, he said.

Highlights of the town’s payroll data include:

  • The town had a $46,022,109 payroll in 2018, compared to a $43,494,852 payroll in 2017, a nearly 6 percent increase despite having a smaller workforce,
  • Overtime pay increased from $1,773,531 in 2017 to $2,453,541 last year, a 38 percent increase. That makes overtime pay 5.33 percent of the total 2018 payroll. In 2017, overtime pay was 4.08 percent of the total payroll.
  • The town had 938 employees in 2018, compared to 968 employees in 2017 — a 3.1 percent decrease in personnel. Marchese said the town had some difficulty in hiring enough part-timers for the summer tourism season, in particular lifeguards.
  • The town’s average pay was $49,064.08 in 2018, a 9 percent increase over 2017 when average pay was $44,932.70. Islandwide, average pay in 2018 was $37,483.12.

“We’re seeing that our overtime has returned to historical levels,” Marchese said. “We know that there’s built-in overtime with police schedules and code enforcement schedules and what not, and that those are standard overtime amounts. We would expect everything to be back to those normal levels.”

—Sophia Chang

To see details of the payroll and search the database, go to


Town of Southold employees had the highest average pay among Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities in 2018, a Newsday analysis of town payroll data shows, reflecting costs driven by the high salaries of the town’s police force.

Total payroll: $20,661,669a 2.28 percent increase over 2017

“Towns to the west don’t have their own police force and their costs are part of the county bill,” Town Supervisor Scott A. Russell said of Southold’s payroll. “Our average pay reflects the fact that we have our own police force.”

Highlights of the payroll data include:

  • Southold’s 355 employees were paid an average salary of $58,202 last year, the highest among the Island’s towns and cities. The average pay represents a 2 percent increase from 2017. Other towns’ average pay ranged from a low of $24,193 in Babylon, to $51,785 in Riverhead, which also has its own police force. The average pay in Southold has hovered in the mid- to high-$50,000 range since 2014.
  • Except for the town comptroller and the chief building inspector, the 40 highest paid staff in 2018 were members of the police department. Police Chief Martin Flatley’s total compensation last year was $220,496.
  • Overtime costs were almost $1.2 million, a nearly 22 percent increase from 2017, when it was $977,030. But the lower overtime costs in 2017 were unusual for the town, which typically spends more than $1 million on overtime annually Until 2018, overtime costs declined since 2014, when the town had a high of $1.2 million in overtime costs.
  • Overtime spending accounted for 5.8 percent of total payroll in 2018, slightly higher than the Islandwide average of 5.2 percent.
  • At $927.20, the town had the fourth highest payroll per capita in 2018, only less than Long Beach, Shelter Island and East Hampton. But Southold Town also had the fourth lowest payroll per square mile, at $384,761.06, higher than Brookhaven, East Hampton and Southampton.

“Overtime cost increases are driven between gaps of employees retiring and the hiring of new personnel, which means the current workforce has to fill those gaps,” Russell said. “More importantly, overtime is also a function of a robust tourist economy. With more and more visitors each year, we require more policing, which creates more overtime costs.”

© 2019 Newsday

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