Brookhaven Town’s payroll has largely remained the same for the third consecutive year after spending $721,174,821 on municipal employees in 2017, according to a Newsday review of town and city payroll data documents.
The amount was the third largest among Long Island towns following Hempstead and Oyster Bay. Brookhaven is the second-most-populated town on Long Island with more than 480,000 residents.
Brookhaven’s 2017 payroll spending compares with $72,496,840 in 2016 and $72,075,495 in 2015, records show.
Brookhaven Town chief of operations Matt Miner said the decrease is an accomplishment because of cost of living adjustments and town employees receiving 2 percent raises.
Miner attributed the payroll decrease to the town becoming more efficient with technology and hiring new staff at lower salaries.
Miner was the town’s highest-paid employee with a salary of $157,792, the data show. Parks commissioner Edward Morris was next at $155,721.
Highway supervisor Michael Murphy was the town’s third-highest-paid employee with a salary of $148,780, including $46,492 of overtime, documents show.
Brookhaven employed 2,034 people last year compared with 2,029 the year before.
While overtime dropped 10.63 percent to a three-year low of $5,876,577 in 2017, it was still the highest among Long Island towns, documents show. In 2016, $6,575,854 was paid in overtime, while it was $7,404,665 in 2015.
Oyster Bay was second in overtime with $5,622,661 and Hempstead, Long Island’s largest town by population, had $1,434,816 in overtime, records show.
Miner said Brookhaven can’t be compared to other towns and that the overtime payments were necessary.
“We have the most land miles to plow in the winter with the snow,” Miner said. “It also means we have the most land miles to sweep and pave, so there’s overtime cost associated with snow removal.”
Geographically, Brookhaven is the largest town on Long Island.
“The other big factor is that we have an operating landfill that operates six days a week and 10 or 11 hours a day,” Miner said. “These other towns don’t have that.”
He said overtime costs also accumulated from projects such as dredging Yaphank Lake.
“We do a lot of projects with the staff that we have,” Miner said. “When you get out there with all that heavy equipment, you’re not going to stop, you’re gonna work sun up to sun down to finish the project.”
Miner said it’s more efficient to pay overtime to town crews than hiring a private company with contract workers.
“While I may be giving an employee two hours of overtime ... it’s a lot cheaper,” Miner said. “We have the equipment, we have the human resources and the talent to get a lot of these capital projects done.”
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine had a salary of $121,362, making him the 38th highest paid, and town attorney Annette Eaderesto took home $129,190. Finance Commissioner Tamara Wright made $143,338.