Newsday has released its annual list of public employee salaries and reported Monday that Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty continues to be the lowest paid town supervisor in Nassau and Suffolk counties with an annual salary of $82,420.
Mr. Dougherty in a letter to the Reporter (“Your Letters” September 28) noted the difference between his pay and that of the region’s top-earning supervisor, Hempstead’s Anthony J. Santino who reportedly was paid $160,000 in 2016.
That prompted a reader to comment on the Reporter’s website that Mr. Dougherty failed to note that Shelter Island’s “per capita” payroll ($2,008) is higher than that reported for Hempstead ($231).
The searchable database on Newsday’s website invites simple comparisons — it offers bar graphs for total payroll, average pay, payroll per capita, payroll per square miles, residents per worker and overtime as a percentage of payroll. But little context is provided.
For instance, Hemstead’s payroll per square miles is reported to be $1,483,678 and the figure for Shelter Island, $400,432. There is no reporting on how such information might be meaningfully applied by residents seeking to make judgments about public payrolls.
The smallest of the 15 towns and cities for which data was reported, Shelter Island (population 2,413) has the smallest payroll ($4,845,239), fewest number of employees/positions (129), and average pay in that falls middle of the pack ($37,560) and is the lowest on the East End.
Generally, top pay in the other municipalities exceeded top pay for similar positions here. Mr. Dougherty’s salary, for instance, is lower than that of 950 employees of the Town of Hempstead, where it most closely matches the earnings of an animal control officer.
Police Chief James Read topped Newsday’s Island pay list in 2016 at $209,006.
Total pay was described as including “a variety of other categories [among them] shift differential, unused vacation or sick time, etc.” Mr. Dougherty told the paper Chief Read’s total included base pay of $182,292 and accrued time off and sick time. His compensation was fourth lowest for top police pay in the East End towns.
Newsday did not combine pay for employees who work multiple jobs; it tallied each position separately.
On Shelter Island, Detective Sergeant Jack H. Thilberg was paid $191,051 for his work in the Police Department, but also earned $24,345 as director of Emergency Medical Services, meaning he is the highest paid individual working for the Town of Shelter Island.
On the East End, Shelter Island most closely aligns with East Hampton, the next smallest town in population, and Southold, which is slightly larger than East Hampton.
On Newsday’s site, East Hampton (pop. 22,009) is listed as having 658 employees/positions and a total payroll of $35,398,727, for an average pay of $38,600. Southold (pop. 22,165) has 333 employees/positions and a total payroll of $19,456,944, for an average pay of $58,429.
The database can be viewed free of charge at projects.newsday.com/payrolls/long-island