Visitors to Huntington Town Hall will undergo a more thorough...

Visitors to Huntington Town Hall will undergo a more thorough screening after the town declared a state of emergency Thursday because of the coronavirus. Credit: Raychel Brightman

The Town of Huntington’s overtime costs increased to 13.21 percent of the overall budget in 2017 after dropping in 2016, a Newsday review of town payroll data shows.

Town officials paid out $4,105,245 in overtime from the town’s annual budget of $190 million.

The highway department had the top four overtime earners, followed by the general services department.

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, who took office Jan. 1, said overtime is a necessary cost.

“Overtime does balance out over a period of time,” Lupinacci said. “For every full-time employee you have to hire, there are startup costs, whether it’s health benefits or retirement benefits, so overall it cost less to pay an individual overtime than hire another full time employee.”

Overtime costs had been on a three-year downswing from 2012 to 2014 but jumped to 7.06 percent of the total budget in 2015. In 2016, the town paid 5.85 percent of the budget in overtime costs. Overtime spending that year went from $4,637,765 to $3,626,113, a 21.81 percent decrease from the previous year. The town’s total 2016 budget was $189 million.

In 2012 overtime costs were 5.34 percent of the budget and continued to decline for the next two years. But a series of heavy snowstorms in 2015 drove up overtime costs.

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Of the total overtime paid last year, $1,123,000 went to pay snow overtime, Lupinacci said. Overtime increases also can reflect retirement payouts or vacancies that have to be filled by another employee until someone new is hired, he said.

Lupinacci also pointed out that the timing of a snowstorm — whether it occurs overnight or on the weekend — impacts overtime. Off-hours storms require more overtime work than those during business hours.

“A snowstorm overnight means you have to bring people in,” Lupinacci said.

Martin Gagliano, an auto mechanic level four, made the most overtime among town employees in 2017 with payments totaling $62,017 on top of his $92,193 base salary. He has worked for the town since March 1983.

Lupinacci called Gagliano a “hard worker” and “reliable” employee who oversees other auto mechanics.

The town’s 2017 payroll overall decreased 2.24 percent over the previous year to $60,614,742 from $62,005,718 even as the staff grew by 40 workers, according to payroll data.

The town’s staffing had slight fluctuations over the past few years, according to Newsday’s analysis. In 2012 the town employed 1,781, the number increased to 1,803 in 2013 and inched up to 1,805 in 2014. In 2015 the number rose to 1,863, then dropped to 1,788 in 2016 and then 1,828 in 2017, records show.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, who did not seek reelection in 2017, was the town’s highest-paid employee in 2017 with total pay of $162,903.00, data show.

Lupinacci said looking at payroll information helps residents better understand where their money is going.

“It shows where their money is being invested, shows where town services are concentrated, which positions require more spending than others,” Lupinacci said.

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