Schenectady employees have the highest average pay of any city employees in the Capital Region for the last fiscal year, according to a report compiled by the Empire Center, a non-partisan fiscal watchdog.
General employees in Schenectady had an average pay of $40,655, about $5,000 higher than the average pay for city employees in the Capital Region, and fire and police employees had an average pay of $80,334, about $4,600 more than average in Capital Region cities, based on pension data submitted to the state Comptroller’s Office from April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013.
Missing from the picture is what the city of Schenectady gets for these costs, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy responded.
By the numbers
A searchable database by municipality is available at www.dailygazette.com/muni-salaries.
“We’re doing a lot of things,” he said of city employees.
Schenectady has 324 general employees and 267 fire and police employees, according to the report.
Empire Center Executive Director Tim Hoefer said taxpayers can judge for themselves based on their report, which also lists the highest paid individuals, regions and municipalities in the state, to determine whether they’re getting a good bang for their buck.
McCarthy said the city is already looking at how to convey to residents what services they’re buying with their tax dollars. He said a website might be set up that will keep track of empirical data, like how many calls police respond to or how many purchase orders are completed.
“It would let people look and see what is actually being done,” he said. “A lot of it is being done behind the scenes and below the surface.”
Part of Schenectady’s high police and fire average costs are due to overtime costs. The mayor noted Schenectady has about half as many personnel as Albany.
“Our base salaries are comparable,” said McCarthy, “but the real issue becomes the staffing levels and where you’re filing for overtime, which drive up the overall compensation for the employee.”
When assessing average pay, the report considered overtime and pay for unused sick and vacation time, but didn’t factor in pension contributions, health insurance and other fringe benefits, which can grow salary costs by more than a third.
McCarthy added that the police contracts are up for negotiation next year.
The city of Saratoga Springs has an average pay of $37,672 for general employees, third-highest in the region, and $74,129 for fire and police employees, sixth-highest in the region.
In the Mohawk Valley, Amsterdam had the second highest average pay for general employees, $38,339, and for fire and police employees, $63,792. Gloversville had the region’s fourth-highest pay for general employees, $36,196, and third for police and fire employees, $63,603.
The highest salary in the state was $359,632 to a Suffolk County employee, which is more than twice what the highest individual employees made in the Mohawk Valley or Capital Region.
Hoefer said all the information in the report is easily obtainable, but it’s not the most complete data, as it is missing specifics, like job titles.
“That is an access issue,” he said. “We would have to FOIL each entity individually.”