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Michael Tangney, Long Beach police commish, topped city payroll

Long Beach City Hall is shown in this

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

Long Beach is home to a fraction of Long Island’s population, but eight of the 10 highest-paid town and city employees Islandwide work for the city, a Newsday analysis of payroll data shows.

All but one of the 62 highest-paid city employees in 2014 were police. Binding arbitration for police union contracts is the key reason those salaries are so high, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

Police Commissioner Michael Tangney was paid $385,395 in 2014, the second-highest total for all town and city employees on Long Island. His base pay was $213,627. His compensation included retroactive pay increases — awarded in a 2013 arbitration to all Police Benevolent Association union employees — from when Tangney was an officer, as well as vacation and other payouts from when he was an officer, City Comptroller Kristie Hansen-Hightower said.

The same arbitration that bumped up Tangney’s income also was the main reason the city’s payroll jumped 14.1 percent in 2014 — the largest increase on Long Island — even though the number of employees fell by more than 2 percent, Hansen-Hightower said. The decision led to $4.9 million to cover five years of police salary hikes retroactively, she said.

The city’s overtime as a percentage of payroll plummeted in 2014 to 6.9 percent from 12.13 percent. Schnirman cited fewer Sandy-related expenses as the reason for the overtime drop.

City Superintendent of Beach Maintenance Thomas Canner, who led the 2013 Islandwide overtime list, was second in 2014. He received $67,312 in overtime on top of a base pay of $107,604. Schnirman said Canner’s leadership helped the city recover from Sandy and allowed Long Beach to do work in-house instead of spending more money on expensive outside contracts.

Three of the other nine top employees for overtime Islandwide were Long Beach police employees. Officer Bruce Azueta was the top Long Island overtime recipient. His $74,925 in overtime, added to a $145,002 base salary and $79,658 in retroactive pay raises, pushed his 2014 income to just under $300,000.

Azueta’s more than 26 years with the police force is a key reason his overtime is so high, Tangney said. Overtime is based in part on seniority. The other two police employees in the top 10 worked nights all or most of the year but had to attend court dates during the daytime and generated overtime, he said.

HOW IT WAS DONE

A team of 11 Newsday reporters has gathered 2014 payroll data from Long Island’s 13 towns and two cities under New York’s Freedom of Information Law. Those statistics have information that has been has been added to payroll data for the previous three years, from 2011 to 2013.

To research payroll data in your town or city, go to Newsday’s interactive database at newsday.com/payrolls.

THE SERIES

Dec. 7: Town and City Payroll Overview

Dec. 8: Glen Cove and Huntington

Dec. 9: Hempstead and Babylon

Dec. 10: Oyster Bay and Smithtown

Dec. 11: North Hempstead and Islip

Dec. 14: Brookhaven and Long Beach

Dec. 15: Southampton and East Hampton

Dec. 16: Riverhead, Southold and Shelter Island

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