Oyster Bay payroll costs went up in 2016 even as staffing levels went down, repeating a pattern from the previous year, a Newsday analysis of town records shows.
The full-time staff level, which includes elected and appointed officials, fell by 42 employees to 1,147, a 3.5 percent decrease, according to town payroll data for last year.
Payroll costs went up to $99,916,753 in 2016 compared to $95,581,305 the previous year while overtime costs went up slightly to $5,075,550 from $4,913,070 the previous year.
Last year town officials again sought staff reductions by offering a retirement incentive program that paid a $1,000 bonus per year of service to retiring employees and guaranteed health care coverage for life at no cost. The town reported in financial documents that 88 retirees with an average annual salary of $100,000 took the incentive.
“The town is actually at the lowest level of full-time employees it has been in recent years,” town spokeswoman Marta Kane said.
The highest paid town employee who did not retire or leave town employment in 2016 was Michael Fabrizio, superintendent of the building division in the Building Department. He was paid $160,894, which included $33,865 in overtime, the data show.
The highest total compensation was received by Robert McEvoy, who retired as comptroller in July 2016. He received $299,842, of which $146,760 was salary. Kane said in an email that the compensation included $165,315 for unused sick and vacation time and a $35,000 retirement incentive payment for his 35 years of service. He received no overtime pay.
Oyster Bay has undergone significant changes in leadership with the resignations of Supervisor John Venditto and Town Attorney Leonard Genova in January 2017. Former Assemb. Joseph Saladino was appointed supervisor on Jan. 31.
In August last year, Venditto said he would seek 150 layoffs if the Civil Service Employees Association Local 881, which represents Oyster Bay town employees, didn’t agree to concessions. After initially rejecting a contract proposal in 2016, the union approved a new contract in January of this year that includes a two-year, 2 percent salary cut expected to save the town $1.8 million over two years, according to financial documents.
The contract also imposed a hiring freeze. “Only essential positions will be filled, and those replacements will be at lower salaries than those who retired from those positions,” according to financial records.
The Saladino administration has made new hires, however, including a public information officer at $163,000, which payroll records show is $133,000 more than the salary of the last person to hold that post.
Recycling and sanitation workers accounted for a disproportionate share of overtime pay in Oyster Bay last year, records show. The top 100 recipients of overtime received a total of $2,231,763, and all but four of those employees worked in recycling and sanitation. The new contract cut contractual overtime, financial records show, which is expected to save $1.3 million annually.