Schenectady County

Fewer Schenectady cops topping $100K mark

The number of police officers making six-figure salaries through overtime work has fallen dramatical

The number of police officers making six-figure salaries through overtime work has fallen dramatically, according to the city’s list of top wage-earners for 2007.

Only 13 officers made $100,000 or more last year. In 2006, 21 officers broke $100,000.

The list was released Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by The Daily Gazette.

The list revealed several small but significant decreases in expenses. Among them: the employee who topped the list saw a decrease in his total pay for the first time.


For a list of the top paying gross salaries of city employees for 2007 click here.

Sgt. Arthur Zampella, who has led the extreme overtime list for three years, made $127,516 last year. That’s $14,000 less than in 2006, when he worked so much that he was racking up an average of 77 hours a week.

Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said Zampella is still working double shifts because almost no one else in the detective division will come in when a case breaks overnight.

“He is one of the few detectives who will respond in the midnight hours. That’s an awkward situation. I am not pleased by that at all,” Bennett said. “But that’s another contract issue.”

Zampella also is the department’s expert on arson cases and sex crimes, and is trained to interview children who have been molested. He is willing to come in at any time, day or night, so that the child doesn’t have to wait for hours before being interviewed.

“He has earned every penny,” Bennett said. “He works extremely hard.”

The list also showed that the city spent $91,400 less on its top 10 earners in 2007, as compared to 2006.

The city spent less on extra benefits in 2007, too. Workers earn additional benefits with their overtime pay, and in 2006, the city spent $200,000 on benefits for the top 21 officers. In 2007, the city spent about $183,000 in extra benefits for the top 21 officers.

Those officers made slightly less in overtime in 2007 as well. The top 21 made a combined $916,000, compared to $1 million in overtime in 2006.

Most significantly, the 21st officer in 2007 made $95,886. In 2006, the 21st officer topped $100,000.

“I’m certainly glad the trend is going down,” said Mayor Brian U. Stratton, who has railed against the steady increase in overtime pay over the past four years. He said the recent hires, which will bring the department up to full strength when the last group finishes training in October, will also help reduce overtime.

But, he said, more needs to be done.

“If we achieve some of the things we’re talking about, — eliminating comp time, drastically reducing union leave, because we have to pay overtime when those people take leave — then we can control overtime,” Stratton said.

The department spent more than its budgeted overtime for 2007, although exact figures were not available. Overall, Bennett said, the department will come in “several thousand dollars” under budget, primarily through savings from positions that were vacant for much of the year. Those positions have now been filled.

Bennett said the reduction in overtime pay for the top officers probably has more to do with the city’s crime level than anything else.

“We’ve had such a vacancy level. Overtime in inescapable, particularly when you’re understaffed,” he said. “I think [the list] is indicative of other things. We did have a 16 percent reduction in crime in the city. The drop in violent crime statistics in the city is reflected, to some extent, in Arthur Zampella’s salary.”

Bennett also told his supervisors to check all overtime cards and make sure the officers actually worked the time they were reporting. He told them to question any overtime that seemed unreasonable — such as more than an hour spent booking someone who was arrested just before the end of a shift.

“It has to be justified. There were certainly some that came into question,” Bennett said, adding that no overtime cards have been rejected.

“Not yet,” he said. “The mere fact that I have the supervisors checking lends itself to having a system of better integrity.”

But he’s not celebrating the beginning of a trend in reduced overtime.

Although the 2007 figures look good in comparison to 2006, he thinks the 2006 overtime figures were a fluke, created when 13 long-time officers retired to avoid the possibility of paying health insurance in the upcoming contract. (That contract is still being negotiated.)

“There were a group of people who retired in the end of 2005. That would certainly have contributed to the jump in 2006. There would have been vacancies,” Bennett said.

By way of comparison, 12 officers made $100,000 or more in 2005, and 14 officers did the same in 2004. In 2003 and 2002, there were just six officers making six-figure salaries.

One thing stayed the same on the list. Only one non-officer was able to break into the top 10 slot.

Sewer Maintenance Supervisor Patrick Tremante made it to number four on the list with a gross salary of $124,847, nearly double his base salary of $66,308. In 2006, Tremante was number three on the list with a total salary of $118,032 and a base salary of $62,279.

On the entire top-earners list, eight police officers doubled their salaries and 37 other officers managed to increase their salaries by at least 50 percent through overtime work. That’s the same number of officers as in 2006.

Five firefighters made $100,000 or more — the same number as last year — and Street Maintenance Supervisor David Savignano made it into the six figures for the first time with a total salary of $107,568. His base salary was $66,308.

Mayor Brian U. Stratton finished at number 227 on the list, with a salary of $60,502. But this year, he’ll join the police officers, firefighters and department heads near the top of the list. His raise went into effect on Jan. 1, so he now makes $96,706.

Schenectady’s top 10 earners:

*  Arthur Zampella, police supervising sergeant, $127,516 (base: $59,252)

*  Robert Kutil, police investigator, $127,514 ($53,939)

*  Keith Schaffer, police investigator, $126,046 ($53,939)

*  Patrick Tremante, sewer maintenance supervisor, $124,847 ($66,308)

*  Matt Hoy, police sergeant, $122,901 ($58,455)

*  Thomas Adach, police investigator, $119,619 ($53,939)

*  Brian Kilcullen, police lieutenant, $116,091 ($65,098)

*  Dwayne Johnson, police officer, $115,359 ($53,141)

*  Thomas Delaney, police investigator, $112,163 ($53,939)

*  John Sims, police investigator, $112,001 ($53,939)

Categories: Schenectady County

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