Smithtown Town Hall, seen here on  Feb. 3, 2016.

Smithtown Town Hall, seen here on Feb. 3, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

Smithtown’s payroll edged up roughly 2 percent to $36.6 million in 2017, an increase Comptroller Donald Musgnug said was driven partly by negotiated raises and civil service step and longevity increases.

Another factor, according to Musgnug: town employees are staying on the job longer “and thus accumulating larger accrued time payouts.”

The average retirement age for a town worker in 2012 was 61.25 years, with 21.65 years of service, he said. Last year the average retirement age was a little over 64 years, with 26.46 years of service.

Smithtown had 482 full-time employees in 2017, down from 506 in 2016, records show. The number of part-time and seasonal workers also dropped, to 752 from 816. A Newsday analysis of payroll data from the town put the average total compensation among town workers last year at $29,655.

Most of the town’s highest-paid employees were the same as those at the top in the previous year, with a few changes in position.

Public Safety director John Valentine became the top-paid worker, receiving $173,769 — a 6 percent raise over his 2016 compensation. He was followed by Environment and Waterways director Russell Barnett, who held the top spot in 2016 and whose total 2017 compensation was $165,050. Town personnel officer Eileen Tropea was the third-highest compensated worker with total compensation of $151,017. Almost all of the top-paid workers have decades of service with the town.

The town paid out $1.4 million in overtime in 2017, up 0.65 percent from 2016, with much of the extra pay going toward Highway Department workers responding to storms. That was deliberate, Musgnug said, with the overtime payments being the result of a calculation that it was “more cost-effective to incur overtime on an ‘as-needed basis’ rather than to staff up for emergencies and have more full-time personnel on payroll all year.”

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Highway supervisor David S. Clark topped the overtime list, adding $35,311 to his $102,452 base salary, the data show. He was followed by Ernest Behnke, another highway supervisor, who added $26,368 to his $91,020 base salary last year.

“They go out in driving rain, snow, floods, downed trees,” Musgnug said. “They are required to be on sitet for these type situations.”

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