North Hempstead’s Highway Department is continuing to make personnel changes following longtime Superintendent Thomas Tiernan’s departure last month amid an internal overtime investigation.
Town officials said they are rebuilding the department to see what the issues are, though they declined to elaborate on specific concerns.
“It’s too early to discuss,” Deputy Supervisor Aline Khatchadourian said Tuesday.
In September, Supervisor Judi Bosworth ordered a probe into the department’s overtime usage in the wake of Newsday inquiries into a landscaping project.
After a wave of retirements over the past few months, the town has been revising its highway administration staff. There are nine budgeted positions for 2017, with two roles shifted to other departments, officials said.
Khatchadourian said the town had yet to begin an active search for a permanent highway superintendent.
At its Tuesday board meeting, the town approved two raises for highway administration staff. Kevin Cronin, 64, the town’s former building commissioner, was hired on a short-term “special assignment” to the supervisor’s office in June 2016 but will become a full-time employee. His salary of $98,000 will bump up to $122,500. Town officials said Cronin will assist with the transitions in the highway department, especially in preparation for snow season.
“Come spring, if we can reduce his schedule back down, that is our intent,” said Khatchadourian.
Cronin will help fill some open positions in the highway department to build manpower prior to the winter season, said Joseph Geraci, the new acting superintendent of the highway department. Geraci, a former building department employee, was promoted this month and will be paid $140,000. Both Geraci and Cronin are exempt employees who are not eligible for overtime.
The town will not fill the position of assistant to the superintendent of highways, which was vacated in June by longtime employee Sandra Lavenziano, whose base salary was $95,722. Law clerk Christine Roberts will take on additional responsibilities such as state funding and responding to town attorney requests, said Carole Trottere, town spokeswoman. On Tuesday, the town approved a 17 percent raise for Roberts, bringing her salary to $70,512, not including overtime.
Town officials said the highway department’s transition includes stricter oversight on overtime. In October, the town implemented a policy requiring all highway overtime to be approved by the finance department, said finance director Jessica Lamendola.
In the past, highway department employees have been the top recipients of overtime in the town. Collectively, the highway administration staff made more than $200,000 in overtime in 2015, according to payroll data obtained by Newsday.
There is $2,000 budgeted for highway administration overtime next year, according to the newly adopted budget.