North Hempstead’s administration grew in 2016, with its staff and total payroll both rising by more than 2 percent compared to the previous year, records show.
The town’s employee numbers increased 2.6 percent to 915 people last year from 892 people in 2015, according to a Newsday review of payroll records provided by the town. Payroll increased 2.5 percent from $33,825,613 in 2015 to $34,661,181 in 2016, according to the data.
Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said contractually obligated union step raises represented more than a $900,000 increase in the payroll for full-time employees.
The increase in employees last year reflected filling vacancies left over from 2015, Trottere said. Seasonal and part-time vacancies also were a factor, she said.
“The seasonal and part-time headcount growth is related to the need for more lifeguards as some left for other commitments and to return to school,” Trottere said.
The town’s top paid employees in 2016 included a mix of departmental leaders and the supervisor’s administrative staff, records show.
Thomas P. Tiernan, the former superintendent of highways, was the town’s highest paid employee in 2016 with a total salary of $186,087, including overtime pay amounting to $19,570. He left the town in November amid an internal investigation into overtime pay. A March 2016 Newsday investigation showed that Tiernan collected more than $134,000 in overtime in the past five years and that he was the only town highway department chief on Long Island to get overtime pay.
Trottere declined to comment specifically on the status of the town’s internal overtime investigation and what results it has had, stating that the town does not comment on “personnel matters.”
Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin collected the town’s second highest salary of $161,538 in 2016, records show. Supervisor Judi Bosworth ranked 10th in top salaries in the town, with $135,290. Bosworth collected the third highest salary among leaders of Nassau’s three towns and two cities, according to payroll data.
The average pay in the town was $37,047 last year, slightly more than the Islandwide average of $37,664, Newsday’s analysis found.
The town’s overtime costs amounted to $1,822,705 last year, representing 5.3 percent of its total payroll. The percentage was above the Islandwide average of 4.7 percent of total payroll going to overtime in 2016, Newsday determined.
Overtime costs in North Hempstead decreased 7 percent last year from the previous year’s total of $1,959,160.
Employees in the town’s Department of Public Works, which now includes the highways division, took home the most overtime of a total of $936,329. The town board approved the merger of the two departments in December 2016. Trottere declined to comment on the nature of the overtime expenses.
Robert Duchnowski, a former auto lead mechanic in the Department of Public Works, had the highest amount of overtime with $45,955 in 2016 for a total annual pay of $123,218. He resigned in July. Town officials declined to comment on the reasons for his resignation, and whether it pertained to the town’s internal overtime investigation.
The town began overseeing highway department overtime more strictly last fall. In September 2016, Bosworth ordered a probe into the department’s overtime payments after Newsday inquiries into costs associated with a landscaping project. The town then implemented a policy requiring all highway overtime be approved by the finance department.
This policy now extends to all departments, Trottere said.
Looking ahead, the town’s payroll strategy continues be “evaluating each open position based on the department’s needs and deciding whether to include the position in future budgets,” Trottere said.
Editor's note: Newsday detected errors in material provided by three towns about their 2016 payroll data -- Islip, Riverhead and Southampton. This story has been updated to reflect the corrected data.