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Brookhaven cut payroll costs but still had third-highest LI town spending

Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville.

Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville. Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

Brookhaven had the third-highest payroll spending on Long Island in 2013, yet the town was among a handful that managed to cut those costs overall.

Brookhaven spent $68.1 million on payroll in 2013, $5.3 million less than in 2012.

Some of the payroll spending cuts can be attributed to staff reductions, said Matt Miner, chief of operations. The town had 2,006 employees in 2013 -- 212 fewer than in 2012.

Most of those staff reductions were part-time workers, Miner said. The town has also offered retirement incentives in recent years that is expected to help bring down the full-time workforce from 1,069 in 2008 to a projected 867 by 2015.

Overall spending on full-time Brookhaven employee payroll went down to $61.3 million in 2013, compared with $65.6 million in 2012, according to data provided by the town.

But Brookhaven spends a lot on overtime. Nearly 11 percent of its payroll costs -- $7.4 million in 2013 -- went to overtime pay.

Officials point to three reasons for overtime: landfill operations, storm recovery efforts and the town's large size.Miner said many town workers racked up overtime while responding to superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that buried parts of Long Island under more than 30 inches of snow in February 2013. Miner said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse much of the overtime resulting from the storms, so overtime costs look worse on paper than they will be once that money comes through.

Another factor is Brookhaven's large, active landfill that has long hours of operation frequently resulting in overtime, Miner said. Other towns needed Brookhaven's landfill to process debris after Sandy and the winter storm, resulting in more overtime.

And with 3,200 lane miles, when it's time to plow the roads, overtime is an inevitability.

Brookhaven's highest paid worker is Edward Gregory, the town maintenance supervisor who has been with the town since 1979. He works in the Parks Division and made $151,743 in 2013, including $63,133 in overtime.

Of the 66 Brookhaven employees who made six-figure salaries in 2013, 46 made five figures in overtime. Of those, 10 made at least 40 percent of their total salary from overtime, including Patrick Liere, a guard for the refuse and garbage department who more than doubled his $54,094 salary with overtime accounting for 53.5 percent of his $119,396 total salary in 2013.

Liere made more overtime than any other worker in town, followed by Gregory. The refuse and garbage department was responsible for eight of the 10 highest payouts for overtime in the town of Brookhaven.

Supervisor Edward Romaine made $110,835.

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