A number of Islip Town park rangers have consistently ranked at the top of the list for overtime pay over the past several years — including one ranger who was paid more in overtime than any other town employee for the third consecutive year, records show.
Edward J. Carter, who holds the title of park ranger II and has been with the town since 1981, led the municipality in overtime pay for 2016 at $44,352, on top of his $69,864 salary, for a total compensation of $114,217. Carter has received a total of $155,429 in extra payment over the past three years, according to a review of Newsday payroll records provided by Islip.
The second highest overtime payment in 2016 went to Thomas Snyder, also a park ranger II, who received $36,361 on top of his $77,652 salary.
Out of the 13 top overtime earners in 2016, seven were park rangers, according to the data, totaling $217,460 in overtime costs for the year, payroll data show.
“The Town of Islip ranks lower in base salaries, when compared to other municipalities across Long Island,” Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said. “It is important to note that despite the fact that Islip is the 2nd largest of the 10 towns in Suffolk, the Town of Islip has fewer total employees than its counterparts island-wide, and has unique cost centers, including a commercial airport and low-lying waterfront communities and marinas.”
She noted that the town has between 50 percent and 65 percent fewer employees than the other western Suffolk towns, “resulting in individual employees being required to work overtime to provide needed services.”
Employees perform a range of duties on overtime pay, Carpenter said, including coverage by public safety officers while new employees complete training, and weather-related emergencies such as storm preparation, snow removal, and at town beaches, marinas and airport properties.
To help reduce the spending, town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said in an email, the town has plans to hire eight new park rangers by the end of this year, adding to the current roster of 12 full-time rangers and eight part-timers.
“Once hired, the Park Rangers will undergo academy and field training,” she said. “The positions will allow for additional patrols at Roberto Clemente Park.”
Clemente Park in Brentwood reopened July 31 after being closed since April 2014 when more than 40,000 tons of contaminated construction debris were found dumped there.
Overall, despite two years of steady growth from 2013 to 2015, Islip’s overtime costs dipped by 29 percent in 2016, when they totaled $2,877,899, compared to the year before at $4,057,659. Smith said during that time, overtime for park rangers has also declined.
The highest base salary on the towns payroll — $150,231 — was paid to Thomas Owens, who holds two town commissioner posts, one each for the Parks Department and Department of Public Works.
The average pay in the town was $31,161 in 2016, down about 0.6 percent from 2015 when it was $43,878. Islip in 2016 ranked fourth for the highest average pay for employees, behind Southhold, Riverhead and Oyster Bay, respectively.
With Sophia Chang
Editor's note: Islip Town had withheld data on summer workers from the payrolls it provided from 2011 through 2016, despite Newsday’s request each year for payroll data on “all employees.” Newsday obtained the missing data for 2016, roughly 500 workers. This story has been updated to reflect the corrected data.