The Riverhead Town Police Department had the highest overtime pay of all town departments in 2014 and 2015, according to the town’s official payroll records.
Riverhead police staff were paid $11,882,458.51 in 2014 and $10,405,819.84 in 2015, the highest in total pay of all departments townwide during those two years.
Of the 577 town employees on the 2015 payroll, the top 10 highest salaries went to police department staffers. Retired police Lt. Robert Peeker was the highest-paid town employee, with $255,685.58 in total salary for that year, a 33.2 percent jump from his $191,910.58 total pay for 2014. Peeker retired in January 2015 after 33 years in the department.
Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller was the second highest-paid employee, with $239,716.45 in total salary for 2015, a $87,888.84 decrease from his $327,605 salary for 2014, which at the time made him the highest-paid employee on Riverhead’s town payroll.
The police department also received the biggest increase in overtime pay year-to-year, with a 51.1 percent increase — from $480,018.64 in 2014 to $725,390.63 in 2015. The highway department’s general repairs staff saw the second highest overtime increase during that period, from $11,141.65 of overtime pay in 2014 to $29,753.21 in 2015.
William Rothaar, Riverhead Town’s financial administrator, said that police overtime went up because the town had six unfilled positions in the department for a good part of the year. Salary that would have been paid to the missing officers went instead toward overtime for the people who covered their shifts.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter made a similar point.
“There was a period of time when we were down five or six officers,” Walter said, adding, “We have pretty much maintained a police force of 85 full-timers and roughly 10 part-timers since 2010.”
Town police also saw the largest reductions in total pay among departments. Riverhead police trimmed their total department payouts by $1,476,638.67 — from $11,882,458.51 total payouts in 2014 to $10,405,819.84 in 2015, a 12.4 percent reduction.
The town’s Community Oriented Police Enforcement office had the second-largest decreases in total pay, dropping $731,125.16 in payroll costs. That reduced total payouts from $1,028,236.96 in 2014 to $297,111.80 in 2015, a 71.1 percent drop.
The town’s planning department saw the third-highest reductions in payroll between 2014 and 2015, cutting $279,255.74 — a 59.5 percent decrease from $469,400.37 in 2014 to $190,144.63 in 2015.
The only town departments that saw any increases in staff between 2014 and 2015 were the nutrition and finance departments, highway administration and the town’s municipal garage.