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Babylon Town payroll rose 3.4% despite fewer workers, data show

This is Babylon Town Hall on Dec. 14,

This is Babylon Town Hall on Dec. 14, 2011. Credit: Carl Corry

The Town of Babylon’s payroll increased 3.4 percent over the previous year even as the town’s staff count dropped by 38 workers, a Newsday review of 2015 town payroll data show.

The town spent nearly $31 million for 1,413 payroll employees in 2015, up from nearly $30 million for 1,451 workers in 2014. The town ranked as having the 10th highest payroll on Long Island, with the sixth-highest number of staff on the payroll. The average pay for 2015 was $21,923, up 6.2 percent from $20,643 the previous year.

Since 2011, town payroll costs have increased by nearly 15 percent while the number of employees has decreased by nearly 1.9 percent.

The town’s highest-paid worker in 2015 was chief environment analyst Rich Groh, whose gross pay was $156,196. That amount included what was also the highest overtime earned in the town, $50,632. Groh has worked for the town since 1986.

Principal engineering aide Frank Vaccaro, who has worked for the town since 1981, was the next highest in salary and overtime, earning $140,378 and $45,603, respectively.

The town spent $1.4 million on overtime for 236 workers in 2015, which was an 8.6 percent increase over 2014. Overtime for the past three years has risen by 96 percent, from $725,847 to about $1.4 million.

Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who earned $107,212 in 2015, attributed the overtime jump to winter storms, particularly those that fell on a weekend and required time-and-a-half pay to workers.

He said Groh and Vaccaro are invaluable longtime workers worth the pay. Groh is “actually four people” in one, he said, and is worth “every penny and more” for his depth of knowledge and experience.

Vaccaro does road reconstruction, which has to be done in the warmer weather, Schaffer said, so that’s when the overtime accumulated.

The town also uses a consulting company, Red Hill Professional Services Inc., which subcontracts with the town through Herbert L. Greene, a solid waste consultant to the town. These nonunion employees are not on the town’s payroll and are not paid directly by the town but through invoices submitted by Greene.

The workers perform duties in various town departments and are paid through several of the town’s funds, including the general and residential garbage funds. The company is owned by former Babylon Town comptroller Doug Jacob, who as of a 2013 town contract with Greene is making $93.50 per hour. Greene is contracted for $85 per hour.

In 2015, Greene billed the town nearly $1.2 million for his and Jacob’s services, as well as 32 employees who worked in environmental control, drug and alcohol control and the offices of the town attorney and the town comptroller.

From 2011 to 2015, the amount paid to Greene has increased by nearly 70 percent, from $691,857 to nearly $1.2 million, and the number of workers increased 68 percent, from 19 to 32.

Schaffer said the Red Hill workers are used as a supplement to the town’s union payroll workforce in an agreement worked out with the unions.

“Our main job is to keep the cost of the town government as inexpensive as possible, so this is a way to do that and continue to deliver the services residents expect,” Schaffer said.

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