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Long Beach spent less on salaries in 2015 than 2014

Long Beach City Hall is shown in this

Long Beach City Hall is shown in this 2013 file photo. Credit: Tara Conry

Long Beach spent $42 million on salaries in 2015, a 3.7 percent decrease from the $43.6 million it spent in 2014.

The city also employed three people who made the list of Long Island’s top 10 highest-paid municipal workers, including Police Sgt. Lee Nielsen, whose $257,015 total compensation placed him first in Long Beach and islandwide rankings for 2015.

Long Beach’s second-highest paid worker, Police Sgt. Michael Langlois, ranked fourth Islandwide with a total pay of $249,464 after retiring in May 2015. Langlois had a base pay of $248,365 — the highest base salary in Long Beach. He made an additional $1,099 in overtime.

Police Commissioner Michael Tangney followed, with his $230,641 total compensation making him the third-highest paid worker in Long Beach, and 10th in Islandwide total pay ranking.

Long Beach also had five people who made the islandwide top 10 list of overtime paid to municipal workers.

Nielsen’s top salary included $76,145 of overtime that supplemented his $180,869 base pay in 2015, placing him first in Long Beach and Islandwide rankings of the highest overtime payouts.

Nielsen is Long Beach’s top DWI officer who works many night hours, and the city has received a grant to support his efforts to combat drunken driving that offsets some overtime costs, officials said. He is also the city’s drug recognition expert, and is often brought in to consult on cases, contributing to his 2015 overtime payout.

Christopher Windle, the city’s superintendent of water maintenance, ranked second for overtime in the city and Islandwide rankings, making $72,579 in overtime last year. Windle was also the city’s highest paid administrative employee, making a total of $204,002 in 2015.

Long Beach spent about $632,000 more on overtime in 2015, a 21 percent increase, to $3.6 million, compared to about $3 million in 2014. A large portion of that was due to changes within the local fire department, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

“We restructured our fire department to improve public safety and run more ambulances, and we have less full-time firefighters,” he said. “We are operating under an outdated labor agreement which is forcing this additional overtime, and which we believe is unsustainable and unaffordable. We’ll be discussing options to reduce that amount of overtime.”

Schnirman made $178,488 in 2015, making him the highest-paid town or city executive on Long Island that year, and 32nd highest-paid employee in Long Beach.

The majority of Long Island is made up of town governments — led by supervisors who are elected to office — and Long Beach officials said it was unfair to compare their salaries with Schnirman’s.

A spokesman said the role of city manager is different from that of a town supervisor, noting that it is not an elected position: Schnirman was appointed by the elected city council, and cities have a different system of government than towns on Long Island.

“He’s earned every penny of his salary, and he even chose to forgo raises multiple times, including this year – after cutting the City Manager’s salary by 5 percent upon taking office,” said Len Torres, president of the Long Beach City Council in a statement.

Long Beach has increased salary spending 9 percent overall since 2011, when payroll was $38.7 million. Although salary spending was down in 2015, Long Beach added 87 employees for a total of 1,712 workers — a 5 percent increase from 2014. City officials attributed most of that to the hiring of part-timers, including many beach maintenance workers.

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