Police, fire personnel were top earners in Scotia last year

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SCOTIA — Mayor David Bucciferro this past week said he is still trying to determine the reason for substantial overtime payments made last year that resulted in some village police and fire personnel earning over $30,000 more than their base salary. 

A list of the village’s top-10 earners for 2022, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, is made up entirely of police and fire personnel, who earned between $16,000 and $38,000 more than their base salary.

Police Sgt. Shawn Coke was the village’s top earner last year, bringing in a gross salary of $124,043, or $33,156 more than his base pay of $90,887, according to records.

Police Officer Michael Spaulding was the second highest earner, with a salary of $119,449, which is $37,569 more than his salary of $81,880. Fire Capt. Jeremiah Rodd was the village’s third-highest earner. He brought home $114,266, or $38,516 more than his salary of $75,750.

Bucciferro, who won election in November and came into office in January, said he only discovered the high overtime expenditures a few weeks ago when he began putting together his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year — a process he acknowledged to being behind on due to the discovery of elevated lead levels in some village drinking water and having to relocate services at Village Hall due to a deteriorating roof.

But Bucciferro said he is in the process of meeting with department heads to learn more about what necessitated the overtime hours and develop solutions while maintaining the same services. Bucciferro said he expects more details to be revealed when he releases his proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year in the coming weeks.

“I can’t give you an exact reason why it is what it is because I had no control over these numbers last year, but I have been in weekly meetings with my department heads to try and see what the cause is and what the trend is going towards with coming year and to begin to work on options that we need to look at to figure out way to curve the high overtime costs,” he said.

Fire Chief David Wood did not return a request seeking comment.

But Police Chief Daniel Harrigan — who ranked fifth on the list of highest paid employees last year, bringing home a salary of $111,550, or $16,040 more than his base pay of $95,510 — said the high overtime expenditures in his department can be traced back to a shortage of workers throughout the year.

He said the 13-member Police Department was down one member for a bulk of the year and several other officers took extended leaves for unforeseen reasons.

The shortage required officers to pick up extra shifts, a move that the chief said was unpopular among the officers, who expressed concerns about a work-life balance during the first half of the year. 

Officers with the highest seniority get the first opportunity at overtime. If they refuse, it goes to the next most senior officer. If no one picks up the extra shift, then the hours are assigned, Harrigan said.

“I would say for the first portion of the year it was definitely an issue in terms of mandating,” he said. “But we’ve been working on that to manage it a little better.”

Harrigan said the department has since filled the vacancies and has worked to adjust shifts in order to reduce overtime spending, and said he is working with Bucciferro on other solutions, including hiring part-time officers to fill shifts when necessary.

The department currently has two part-time officers, but Harrigan said he would like to add one or two more.

“They kind of help and fill in where needed,” Harrigan said.

Scotia’s high spending on overtime for emergency personnel is not unique.

Municipalities throughout the region saw similar trends last year, including the city of Schenectady, Gloversville and Schenectady County. Officials in those localities also attributed the increased overtime spending to staff shortages.

Here is a list of the village’s top earners in 2022.

  • Police Sgt. Shawn Coke earned $124,043.50, or $33,156.50 more than his base salary of $90,887
  • Police Officer Michael Spaulding earned $119,449.65, or $37,569.65 more than his base salary of $81,880.
  • Fire Capt. Jeremiah Rodd earned $114,266.51, or $38,516.51 more than his base salary or $75,795.
  • Fire Capt. Daniel Wanmer earned $112,335.76, or $36,585.76 more than his base salary of $75,795.
  • Police Chief Daniel Harrigan earned $111,550.89, or $16,040.86 more than his base salary of $95,510 
  • Police Sgt. Adam Halbfinger earned $110,162.60, or $19,275.60 more than his base salary of $90,887.
  • Fire Capt. James Jones earned $108,445.40, or $32,695.40 more than his base salary of $75,750.
  • Police Sgt. Daniel Bean earned $107,993.13, or $17,106.13 more than his base salary of $90,887.
  • Fire Capt. Keith Phillips earned $105,389.52, or $29.639.52 more than his base salary of $75,750.
  • Police Officer Danielle Peck earned $102,824.67, or $20,944.67 more than her base salary of $81,880.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: -News-, News, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

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