Seven members of Niskayuna police agency among town’s top 10 earners in 2022

Niskayuna Town Hall

NISKAYUNA — Seven of the top 10 municipal employees in Niskayuna in 2022 emanated from the town’s police department, with Sgt. Jeffrey Relation the town’s highest-paid worker for the second straight year.

Relation was paid a base salary of $96,748 in 2022, with overtime pay boosting his annual salary to $162,243.

Niskayuna Chief of Police Jordan Kochan was the agency’s second-highest earner at $137,072 per year, with police officer John Connor earning $135,340 in 2022, with $46,089 in overtime added to his base salary of $89,251.

Kochan said that the realities of staffing an around-the-clock department necessitate the outlay of police overtime.

“The system that’s in place right now is that we run a 24-hour, seven-day a week, 365-day per year operation where we have minimum staffing requirements to give a complement of police officers that’s necessary for the Town of Niskayuna,” he said on Thursday. “When you talk about a general consensus amongst police agencies, we have a nationwide and statewide police officer candidate and staffing shortages. In order to give the level of service that’s necessary for our community, you have to staff the positions for the minimum staffing requirements.”

After hiring five new police officers in 2022 and losing three officers to retirement or other job opportunities, the department currently has 27 members, with the town funding up to 30 staff members for the agency.

“Our police budget is budgeted for a full police force of 30 and we’re working towards having a full force,” Town Board Member Jessica Brennan said on Thursday. “So in the meantime, we have had to have officers work overtime to make sure that we are staffed and ready for any emergencies that are called upon during different shifts. It’s already been budgeted for with an actual person, but if we don’t have a person to fill that position then that money goes towards overtime so that people are protected.”

The second spot on the town’s list is occupied by Superintendent of Water, Sewer and Engineering Matthew Yetto at $145,233 per year, with Highway Superintendent Ray Smith placing third in 2022 with a yearly salary of $140,108.

“We’ve got the highway superintendent and the superintendent of water and sewer and both of those individuals oversee some of the most important resources in our town,” Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said on Thursday. “Each of those departments oversee millions of dollars worth of equipment to provide clean water, sewage and nicely plowed and paved streets to our residents.”

Comptroller Elizabeth Greenwood placed sixth on the list with a $130,890 annual salary.

“She’s tasked with helping put together a budget that ensures that we have our departments working well and providing services for residents,” Puccioni said of Greenwood. “When it comes time for budget season, those are some of the biggest expenses between water, sewer, transportation and the police department, so it doesn’t surprise me that those department heads are among our highest paid.”

The remainder of the list is rounded out by members of the police department, with Deputy Chief Michael Stevens earning $129,631 in 2022, with Lt. Joseph Twitty making $124,926, police officer Jackson Archambault taking home $123,328 and Sgt. Todd Frenyea earning $122,940 last year.

Niskayuna Town Board Member Jason Moskowitz said he believes the current overtime system is being well deployed by the town.

“I think it’s been pretty evident throughout the last year or so that we’re working hard to make sure that the police department is properly staffed,” he said on Thursday. “As with any 24-hour agency such as the police department, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have overtime. There’s shifts that need to be filled to make sure the town is being protected properly.”

Kochan said the department has certain advantages that make the agency attractive to prospective candidates.

“Honestly it’s our community,” he said. “We have an awesome school district and we have a great working relationship with them. It’s an awesome place to come raise a family and kind of plant your roots. There are a lot of job opportunities out there and a lot of police officer jobs out there, but we think that the brand that we’re building in Niskayuna is a very attractive one.”

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