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Shelter Island payroll spends bulk on police, highway dept.

Shelter Island Chief of Police James J. Read during an awards ceremony on Feb. 26, 2013 Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The town of Shelter Island spent the bulk of its payroll on police and highway department salaries in 2017, a Newsday review of town records shows.

The $4,855,525 town payroll increased by 0.21 percent over the previous year’s payroll of $4,845,239, data provided by the town indicate.

“We are looking to the future with a prudent Town Board and a very professional and responsible family...

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The town of Shelter Island spent the bulk of its payroll on police and highway department salaries in 2017, a Newsday review of town records shows.

The $4,855,525 town payroll increased by 0.21 percent over the previous year’s payroll of $4,845,239, data provided by the town indicate.

“We are looking to the future with a prudent Town Board and a very professional and responsible family of Town employees,” Shelter Island Supervisor Gary Gerth, who took office in January, said in an email statement.

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The town spent about $216,857 in overtime, or 4.47 percent of the entire payroll, in 2017, records show. That represents a small increase from 2016, when the town spent 4.31 percent of its payroll on overtime. Across Long Island, the average payroll percentage that towns spent on overtime was 4.82 percent in 2017.

The top eight earners in Shelter Island were all police department employees, who were paid a total of $1,200,471 last year, records indicate. Police represent the top pay across Long Island towns and cities with their own law enforcement departments, records show.

Shelter Island Police Chief James Read had the highest 2017 pay at $211,561, with a base salary of $185,956 and a uniform cleaning allowance and longevity pay.

Det. Sgt. Jack Thilberg made the most overtime in 2017 with $40,528 on top of his $138,722 salary, records show. With additional pay items for holiday pay, night differentials and a uniform cleaning allowance, Thilberg made a total of $194,803 in 2017.

The town police department has nine full-time employees, and another 11 part-time and seasonal staff. Police employees in total earned $1,621,666 in 2017, or 33 percent of the town’s total payroll, records show.

Read said four high-ranking officers retired between 2016 and 2017, which lowered the department’s overall payroll.

The top-paid non-police staffer was labor crew leader Brian Sherman of the Highway Department, who was paid $19,488 in overtime in 2017, records indicate. The entire highway department was paid $1,417,407 in 2017, or 29.2 percent of the total payroll.

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The town added 16 employees in 2017, going from 129 staffers to 145 — an increase of 12.4 percent.

In 2017, the average pay of a Shelter Island employee was $33,486, which is a 10.85 percent decrease over the average pay of $37,560 in 2016. Across Long Island, the average pay of a town employee was $36,857 in 2017.

With about 2,421 residents, Shelter Island has about 16.7 residents per town employee. The 12.1-square-mile town has the smallest payroll of all the towns on Long Island.