Twenty-four Babylon Town employees will work additional town jobs for extra pay this year.
They range from Deputy Supervisor Antonio Martinez — whose $58,443 2015 town board member salary is augmented by a $50,000 stipend for additional administrative duties — to Town Attorney Joseph Wilson, who was paid $111,629 in that role last year and will also serve as Sanitation Commission chairman for an additional $2,000 in 2016.
Also on the list is Ronald Kluesener, Supervisor Richard Schaffer’s chief of staff, who will be paid $8,500 as a solid waste administrator this year in addition to his $109,084 salary.
The town board approved the appointments earlier this month.
The town will pay a total of $163,150 in stipends for the additional positions in 2016, but Schaffer said the decades-old town practice “ends up saving us money” because hiring additional employees would cost thousands more in pension and health insurance costs.
Clerk Katherine Lynch, for example, was paid $77,114 last year for her normal duties and will be paid an additional $14,000 for work as a part-time purchasing technician.
“She is so valuable in terms of her knowledge and experience in procurement laws,” Schaffer said.
If the town had to hire a full-time employee to do that work, he said, the employee would cost the town over $100,000 a year, he said.
In addition to his town attorney duties, Wilson spends 10 to 15 hours a month on the Sanitation Commission board, which meets monthly, brings in steady revenue from fines and helps enforce quality-of-life codes, Schaffer said.
Martinez, whose deputy supervisor stipend was increased from $20,000 last year to $30,000 in January and $50,000 in March, leads many parks initiatives and is active on town development issues.
“He and I are a full-time tag team,” Schaffer said. “If I could pay him more, I would.”
Simply expanding job descriptions and demanding more work would violate union labor agreements for some of the employees. Even for nonunion employees, Schaffer said, “I’d rather be fair about it” and pay the extra salaries, which the town budget designates as “stipends.”
The towns of Huntington and Brookhaven also pay some employees extra salaries for extra work. Oyster Bay pays its town clerk an additional $12,000 to serve as Registrar of Vital Statistics.
E.J. McMahon, president of the conservative-leaning research group Empire Center for Public Policy, was skeptical of the practice, which he likened to the widespread distribution of paid “leadership” titles in the New York State legislature.
“The question in Babylon is whether these are real jobs, or merely titles contrived to justify stipends,” he wrote in an email.
About three quarters of the town employees holding additional salaried positions contribute to the Babylon Town Democratic Committee or directly to Democratic candidates, records show, but Schaffer said donations have nothing to do with the appointments.
The employees, he said, “have particular experience over the years. They’re good multitaskers, and we need someone who can handle several things at once.”
With Carl MacGowan, Deborah Morris and David Olson