Embattled Schenectady County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Geraci ranked among the highest earners in Schenectady County, taking the third spot behind two longtime officials.
Ray Gillen, the chairman of the county Metroplex Development Authority, was the top-earning employee of the county, earning a total of about $218,500. The second top earner was District Attorney Robert Carney, who earned a total of just over $215,500.
Geraci was one of three Sheriff’s Department officers to make the list of top-10 earners in 2021 for county employees, according to a Freedom of Information Request by The Gazette.
A corrections lieutenant rounded out the top 10 earners.
None of the top earners were the sheriff or undersheriff.
Geraci has a base salary of about $86,000. However, in 2021 he earned that amount and more in overtime. He received almost $114,000 in overtime last year, with an additional over $6,700 in other pay boosting him past County Manager Rory Fluman in earnings.
Other pay includes holiday, uniform and physical fitness allowances, retirement payouts, and $200 in vaccine incentives, according to the document the county provided.
Also surpassing Fluman in earnings was Sheriff’s Patrol Sgt. Milton Johnson, who took the fourth spot with more than $189,500 earned for 2021. He had a base salary of almost $74,500, but earned around $110,800 in overtime pay.
Fluman came in at the number 5 spot with over $179,700 for 2021.
Patrol Officer Derik Schmidt also made a significant amount in overtime — almost $90,000 — giving him a total salary of around $170,800.
Undersheriff James Barrett said a number of factors have contributed to overtime pay.
Barrett said there are 10 patrol officers in the department, but during 2021, the department ran one officer short due to the officer being out on a work-related injury. The patrol division is also multi-faceted, he said. He said the officers cover road patrol, civil enforcement, the Marine patrol, the street crimes task force, act as school resource officers, and operate a K-9 division and drug unit.
Part of the increase to overtime came from COVID-related events and requirements.
“Multiple additional posts and requirements were tasked out upon the patrol division to help properly provide law-enforcement presence at multiple sites relative to COVID,” he said in an emailed statement.
The department has had officers posted at testing sites, vaccination sites, food pantry distributions and as additional security at the health department headquarters. And that’s just naming some of the additional tasks placed on officers, Barrett said.
But it’s not just COVID affecting overtime hours.
“It is also important to note that the civil division along with the patrol division are currently undergoing the accreditation process. These challenges, together with the implementation of police reform, certainly have driven up some of the overtime costs,” Barrett said.
He said he’s proud of how hard the officers have worked.
But it’s not just the Sheriff’s Department that is seeing officers get overtime. Corrections Lt. Michael Nealon rounded out the top-10 earners in the county. He had a base salary of almost $83,000 in 2021, but with over $67,000 in overtime and an additional roughly $7,000 in other pay, he earned over $157,000 last year.
The correctional division has 157 positions, but with 12 currently open and hard to fill people have had to work overtime, Barrett said.
Barrett said they anticipate three more retirements as of Feb. 1.
“We are aggressively attempting to hire new correction officer candidates, however the lack of interest in law-enforcement jobs in recent years has presented a steep decline in participants taking the current civil service exam, therefore producing a very small employment pool by which to vet out candidates for the correction officer positions,” he said.
He said COVID played a role in staffing the facility. Many of the correction officers have not only come down with COVID once, but “a number of times,” he said.
“Overtime for the correctional facility is called on a rotating basis through its current union Council 82,” Barrett said. “The minimum number of mandated posts is dictated by the New York State commission of corrections, we make every effort to properly staff and man those posts as failure to do so would present safety and security issues for the inmates and staff alike.”
Also wrangling in a significant amount of overtime was Child Protective Services Senior Caseworker Lance Harvey who came in at the seventh-highest earner in the county, getting paid over $170,000. He had a base salary of $82,600, but made almost $84,300 in overtime. He also received retroactive pay and $200 as part of a vaccine incentive.
“Caseworkers are eligible to earn overtime for on-call night and weekend hours,” said Erin Roberts, the director of communications for the county in an email. “Lance is a senior member of the DSS (Department of Social Services) team and often volunteers to be on-call on evenings and weekends to address urgent situations that arise outside of normal work hours.”
Roberts said the county has decreased overtime costs in that department by over 40% since 2018, “even as the pandemic has created additional challenges.”
Now-retired Director of Facilities Donald Scheuer came in at a total of $159,700 and right behind him at the ninth spot was County Attorney Chris Gardner, who made almost $5 less than Scheuer.