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Long IslandSuffolk

Babylon Town 2017 payroll growth driven by overtime increase

The town's low average wage compared to other Long Island towns is the result of having so many entry-level and seasonal jobs, officials said.

Babylon Town Hall is seen on July 11,

Babylon Town Hall is seen on July 11, 2016. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Babylon Town payroll grew by about $260,000 from 2016 to 2017, driven by a 10 percent increase in overtime pay, data reviewed by Newsday show.

The town paid its 1,388 employees $32,247,615 in 2017, marking the fourth straight year of payroll growth, according to records provided by the town.

But average Babylon wages continued to be the lowest of the 13 towns and two cities on Long Island, a comparison of their payroll records shows. Workers in Babylon were paid $23,233 on average in 2017, compared to $36,857 Islandwide.

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer noted that the town’s average pay is brought down by its many entry-level seasonal parks employees. More than 1,000 of those on the payroll are part-time or seasonal workers.

“Overall we try to strike a balance between fairly compensating our hardworking employees and not overburdening our taxpayers,” Schaffer said in a statement provided by spokesman Kevin Bonner. “Babylon continues to do more with less.”

Diane Caparso, the town’s unit president for the Civil Service Employees Association, said she was satisfied with her union’s contract with the town.

“You might start low, but in a couple of years you’re making a decent salary,” she said of town wages.

Ben Carenza and Andrew Viega, representatives of Babylon’s Local 237 union members, declined to comment.

The 1,388 employees listed on Babylon’s payroll represent an eight-person increase from 2016, although 15 employees appear twice in the 2017 database because they held multiple positions or changed jobs midyear, bringing the total number of town employees last year to 1,373.,The $148,000 jump in overtime and double time — from about $1.46 million in 2016 to $1.6 million in 2017 — stemmed largely from a $62,000 increase in the off-hours pay for Maintenance of Streets workers.

Bonner attributed that growth to paving projects carried out by town employees on weekends when traffic was light, which he said cost the town in overtime but saved it in outside contractor costs.

Eleven town employees were paid more than $25,000 in overtime and double time in 2017, including sign painter Thomas Guilfoil, whose $28,000 in off-hours pay was part of $128,000 in total compensation, records show. Bonner said Guilfoil earned his overtime producing important traffic signs on nights and weekends to replace others damaged in car accidents or storms, for example.

“Some signs need to be made right away,” Bonner said.

There were 62 Babylon employees whose salaries topped $100,000 in 2017, including eight labor crew leaders, nine maintenance mechanics and chief environmental analyst Rich Groh, whose $155,000 in total compensation made him the top town earner, as in years past.

Twenty-six employees received stipends for additional roles, such as chief of staff Ronald Kluesener, whose base pay of $109,000 was supplemented with $8,500 for serving as “solid waste administrator,” town records show.

The head count in the 2017 payroll does not include about 36 workers the town employed through Red Hill Professional Services, a company owned by former town comptroller Doug Jacob. The town subcontracts with Red Hill through the solid waste consultant Herbert L. Greene. The town paid Greene $1.65 million in 2017, an increase of about $120,000 over the year prior, Bonner said.

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