Southampton Town Hall on Hampton Road in Southampton.

Southampton Town Hall on Hampton Road in Southampton. Credit: Randee Daddona

All but seven of the 83 highest base salaries in Southampton Town in 2017 were for law enforcement officers, town records reviewed by Newsday show.

The town spent $43,494,851 on its payroll in 2017, up $1,382,579 million, or 3.28 percent, from $42,112,271 in 2016, the data show. Newsday last year reported Southampton spent $38.6 million on its payroll in 2016, but that was based on erroneous data received from the town.

The 2017 payroll included $1,773,531 in overtime, up $43,626 from $1,729,905 in 2016.

The 43 highest-paid employees in the town were police or superior officers, records show. The highest-paid non-police employee was town comptroller Leonard Marchese, who received $143,055 in base pay and $5,473 in other pay for a total of $148,528 in 2017, making him 44th overall.

Four Southampton Town law enforcement officers, including a retiring detective, were paid more than $200,000 in 2017, town records show.

Det. Richard Gates, who retired in August 2017, was the highest-paid employee in the town with total compensation of $235,418. He collected a $154,223 payout for accrued time, on top of his $81,195 base salary.

The other three employees to be paid more than $200,000 were Capt. Lawrence Schurek Jr. at $222,032, Det. Steven DeMarco at $203,170 and Sgt. Todd Bennett at $201,098, all figures that include overtime and other compensation.

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Former Police Chief Robert Pearce, who retired in 2016, collected a $139,660 payment in January 2017 for accrued time, making him the town’s 62nd-highest-paid employee that year. It was the second half of his total payout, Marchese said.

Dets. DeMarco and Robert Stabile Jr. were paid the most in overtime among town employees in 2017, receiving $60,159 and $39,613 respectively, records show.

Marchese attributed a majority in the overall rise in spending to 2 percent raises and a few step increases for employees.

“This is an expensive place to live. I understand that workers need to be paid a livable wage,” said Southampton Town supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who was the 99th highest-paid employee with $108,243 in base pay and $117,429 in total compensation. “I think a two percent increase is quite reasonable.”

Only one position, that of a police officer, was added to Southampton’s roster of 535 full-time employees last year, Marchese said. The town employed 967 people in 2017, although a little less than half are seasonal and part-time workers. Records show that 30 employees on the 2017 payroll have since retired.

Schneiderman noted the town recently approved a retirement incentive package to be offered to select employees on a 32-hour work week. That package allowed workers to be paid a full year’s vacation and longevity pay even if they retired halfway through the year, he said, adding that one employee, a police aide, took advantage of the package.

“We were able to fill the position at a lower salary,” Schneiderman said.

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