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Southold’s $19.5 million payroll is top heavy with police officers

Southold Town Hall is seen in this 2012

Southold Town Hall is seen in this 2012 file photo. Credit: Ursula Moore

The Town of Southold’s payroll nudged up 2.5 percent to $19.5 million last year, the highest level in five years but still among the lowest on Long Island.

Supervisor Scott A. Russell said that with “substantial” investments in town infrastructure like roads planned over the next five to seven years and medical and pension costs rising, officials may look to trim the town workforce this year through attrition.

“Given the circumstances, we may not have any choice but to let staffing drop,” he said in a phone interview.

The town employs 160 workers full time, 50 on a seasonal basis and 50 part time. As with many Long Island municipalities with their own police departments, police pay represented a significant portion — 39 percent — of the overall payroll, according to data supplied by the town.

Total annual compensation for police officers in 2015 averaged $91,264; it was $55,350 for the average town worker.

Forty-four of the 50 best-compensated town employees were police officers. The top earner, as in 2014, was Capt. Frank R. Kruszeski, a nearly 27-year veteran whose total compensation was $230,548.

Police officers were paid an average $11,155 in overtime versus $6,806 for the average worker. The top overtime earner was Det. Kenneth D. Richert, a 20-year veteran who augmented his $127,071 base pay with $40,599 in overtime pay.

Police overtime rose when staffing dipped to 42 officers last year, Russell said, and is falling after eight new officers were hired last year.

Overall, town workers were paid $1.8 million for overtime work last year, an amount representing 5.78 percent of total payroll. That percentage put them in the middle of the pack for Long Island towns and below the Long Island average of 5.93 percent.

Russell approves all overtime shifts except for police officers, he said.

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