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Long IslandSuffolk

Islip Town overtime costs increased in 2017, records show

Most of the overtime was generated by park rangers and highway workers, both departments that had been understaffed, officials said.

Islip Town Hall is pictured on May 9.

Islip Town Hall is pictured on May 9. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Several Islip Town employees made more than the average town worker’s salary in overtime pay alone in 2017, receiving more than $40,000 in overtime each, payroll data reviewed by Newsday show.

Town park rangers led in overtime pay in 2017, with three paid more than $50,000 in overtime each, records provided by the town indicate. Twenty-four employees — mainly park rangers and highway employees — took home more than $20,000 in overtime pay, while 11 received more than $30,000 last year.

Town comptroller Joseph Ludwig said overtime increased because park rangers and highway departments were understaffed.

“It’s always the ‘do more with less’ concept,” Ludwig said.

With 29 fewer town employees in 2017, total payroll costs decreased by about $1.33 million, or 2.63 percent, from $50.8 million in 2016 to $49.46 million last year, data shows.

Average pay for Islip Town employees in 2017 was $30,893, the fourth-lowest average pay of the 13 towns and two cities on Long Island, according to Newsday’s analysis.

Overtime pay for all employees increased by 15 percent to $3.31 million in 2017 from $2.88 million in 2016, data reviewed by Newsday shows. Of 1,601 employees in 2017, about 1,055 workers made no overtime pay, records show.

Park ranger overtime “really skyrocketed for a while” as rangers had to constantly patrol Brentwood’s Roberto Clemente Park — where 40,000 tons of contaminated debris was illegally dumped in 2013 and 2014 — before it reopened in July 2017, Ludwig said. Officials were not able to hire more rangers until August 2017 because of the schedule of Suffolk County peace officer classes, he said.

Edward Carter, who holds the title of park ranger II, was the top overtime earner for the fourth consecutive year, making $54,288 on top of his $70,932 base salary in 2017. Park ranger Thomas Hill made just $140 less in overtime than Carter in addition to his $63,243 base salary. Park ranger Brendan Kearns, who testified he was the ranger to report signs of illegal dumping at Roberto Clemente Park to his superiors, made $50,139 in overtime pay plus his $63,877 base salary.

In 2017, about 500 summer workers were paid between $87.50 and $37,500 each — totaling nearly $2.4 million — representing about a third of the town’s employees and 5 percent of payroll costs, data shows.

Data about summer employees from 2011 to 2015 was not provided in the town’s responses to Newsday’s requests for payroll information under the Freedom of Information Law.

The highest-paid town employee last year was Thomas Owens, the commissioner of public works and parks and recreation, who made $152,404. His pay was $21,154 more than that of the second highest-paid employee, town aviation commissioner Shelley LaRose-Arken. The town lost staffers in 2017 through “natural attrition,” Ludwig said, noting that many workers seek jobs with higher pay given the town’s low average pay.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter did not make herself available for comment about the town payroll.

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