Shelter Island’s town police are paid about 45 percent more than the state average for town police, according to data released this week by the Empire Center, an Albany think tank .
In 2014, the average salary for a Shelter Island Police Department officer was $131,362, substantially higher than the statewide average of $90,554 for a town police department officer, according to the Empire Center’s report. That amount makes Shelter Island’s 10-officer department the highest-paid among the five East End towns.
Those figures follow a larger trend since Long Island is one of the most affluent parts of the state, according to the Empire Center’s figures. Suffolk and Nassau County police officers have received attention for their large salaries — averaging $154,474 per year and $149,645 per year, according to the report — though in recent years Suffolk has slightly altered its system.
“Long Island police officers dominated the list of highest-paid local government employees outside New York City in 2014,” the Empire Center’s report stated. “Thirty-one of the 50 highest-paid local government employees were police officers on Long Island, including 24 Nassau County police officers.”
Although Shelter Island’s police were generally paid more than other officers on the East End, the opposite is true for its town employees: at $42,187, the Island’s employees had the second-lowest average salary of all 13 Long Island townships. However, they were still paid slightly more than the state average for town employees of $39,435.
The highest-paid public employee on Shelter Island was Police Chief Jim Read with a salary of $179,185, according to the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNYdatabase. Shelter Island School District Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik was paid $170,081. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty will earn $81,200 in 2015.
The Empire Center used pay data reported to the New York State and Local Retirement System between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. In its report, the organization noted figures listed do not include benefits such as health insurance or pension contributions, “which can add 35 percent or more to the cost for taxpayers.”
In Southold, town employees were paid slightly more than on the Island at an average salary of $48,062 while police were paid slightly less at $125,018.
The average salary for Southold’s town employees was sixth highest out of 13 Long Island towns, and the average salary for its police was second highest out of the five East End towns, all of which have their own departments.
David Gamberg, superintendent of the Southold and Greenport School Districts, was the highest-paid public employee in town at $249,109, according to SeeThroughNY data. Police Chief Martin Flatley’s salary was listed at $197,494, while Supervisor Scott Russell’s salary is $97,327.
Farther west in Riverhead, town employee and police salaries were slightly lower than Southold at $46,537 and $119,326, respectively.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter was paid $122,508 — about $25,000 per year more than his counterpart on the North Fork — according to SeeThroughNY. Police Chief David Hegermiller was paid $219,237 and Nancy Carney, superintendent of the Riverhead School District, was paid $232,892.