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LIPA’s total payroll declines, but average pay climbs 3.6%

LIPA Managing Director of Financial Oversight Kenneth Kane,

LIPA Managing Director of Financial Oversight Kenneth Kane, left, got a new title and a raise, while Thomas Falcone, the agency's chief executive, is making less than his predecessor did. Credit: Angela Datre

The Long Island Power Authority’s total payroll declined to $5.03 million in 2015, but average pay was up 3.6 percent from 2014, to $109,328, according to a Newsday analysis.

The average compensation for the 22 top-paid employees and officials for LIPA also increased — to an average $169,810 in 2015, compared with average pay of $154,364 paid to 25 people who made more than $100,000 in 2014, according to the data.

Recently named chief executive Tom Falcone made $250,000 last year as chief financial officer. His predecessor had a base pay of $275,000.

LIPA spokesman Sid Nathan, whose base pay is $135,000, blamed vacancies in 2014 for the appearance of the increases in 2015, saying there have been “no general pay increases” at LIPA since 2009.

“It’s natural for there to be a dip and spike in average pay when a leadership positions like general counsel are vacant,” he said.

But other longtime LIPA staff and officials did see increases from 6 percent to 11 percent over the year. LIPA employees can earn extra pay for working through vacation days.

LIPA’s head count declined by more than half in 2014 when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s LIPA Reform Act went into effect. Most of the operational duties of the authority shifted to PSEG Long Island.

The $5.03 million in total pay LIPA employees received last year was an 8.3 percent decline over the prior year’s $5.48 million — and a large cut from the $11.6 million LIPA employees received in total compensation in 2013.

Average compensation at LIPA has increased marginally during the past four years: It was $105,482 in 2014, $104,660 in 2013, and $103,856 in 2012, when it had its largest increase in recent years, from $96,079 in 2011, according to the figures.

Most LIPA employees work in the finance and audit departments. The breakdown, provided by LIPA through a Freedom of Information Law request, shows 20 were in finance and audit departments in 2015, followed by 12 in contract oversight, seven in the legal area and five in human resources.

LIPA reached a high of 111 employees in 2013, though not all were employed continuously for the year.

New hires in 2015 included director of communications Nathan, a former spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and for the Town of North Hempstead.

The authority continues to hire, filling vacant slots while reorganizing. Last week, LIPA named Joseph Branca, an investment banker at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit, as chief financial officer, taking a post currently held by Falcone, also a former investment banker from Morgan Stanley.

Branca, 62, a former chief financial officer of the Empire State Development Corp. under Govs. Mario Cuomo and George Pataki, will make $250,000 when he starts in three months, after giving his current employer 90 days’ notice. Falcone will handle those duties in the interim.

Some employees who were among LIPA’s top earners in 2015 will see their job titles change this year, some with pay increases.

Kenneth Kane, previously managing director of finance and budgeting, will see his base pay increase to $215,000 from $200,000 in 2015. Kane was recently named managing director of financial oversight, focusing on PSEG rather than LIPA’s finance and budget.

Justin Bell, an attorney at LIPA whose base pay was $140,000 last year, will receive $154,000 in his new role as director of rates and regulation.

John Little, former managing director of planning and rates, who made $180,202 in 2015, was recently named managing director of strategy and policy. His pay stays the same.

With Tim Healy

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