Top 10 earners in the Capital Region
The Empire Center report looked at earnings from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, for local government employees in Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.
1. Brian Lutz, Albany police officer, $177,397
2. Timothy Landis, Rensselaer County psychiatrist, $176,325
3. Joel Fatato, HVCC vice president of finance, $164,604
4. Ray Gillen, Schenectady Metroplex chairman, $162,604
5. Raymond Davis, Troy Fire Department, $161,879
6. P. David Soares, Albany County district attorney, $159,842
7. James Crucetti, Albany County commissioner of public health, $158,093
8. Mark McCracken, Schenectady police lieutenant, public information officer, $157,660
9. Thomas Rush, village of Scotia police sergeant, $156,799
10. Thomas Culbert, town of Rotterdam police lieutenant, $156,341
Police officers out-earn most government employees in the eight-county Capital Region, according to an Empire Center report released Thursday.
On average, the town of Bethlehem’s 37 police employees earned $93,561 from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, putting them at the top of the list. Colonie, with 109 employees, was close behind at $92,789, followed by Guilderland (34 employees) at $89,928 and Rotterdam (47 employees) at $86,816.
“Police contracts get negotiated under a different set of rules than other government contracts,” said Ken Girardin, Empire Center spokesman. “The rate of pay for police and firefighters has increased at three times the rate of general employee pay going back to 1972.”
That’s not to say general government employees aren’t well paid. The town of Glenville’s 72 employees topped that list by earning an average of $46,617.
Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle called the report misleading and said the town has reduced its non-police workforce from about 88 employees five years ago. He also noted that Niskayuna and Rotterdam have 157 and 119 non-police employees, respectively, and smaller populations than Glenville.
“We’re one of the leanest municipalities around,” he said. “We don’t backfill with lower paying jobs.”
Schenectady County’s 1,413 employees were second, earning $46,592, followed by Albany County (2,379 employees) at $45,645 and Saratoga County (1,366 employees) at $45,239. Those numbers included the pay of county sheriff’s deputies because they are in the local retirement system and not the police and fire retirement system, Girardin said.
Gary Hughes, the Schenectady County Legislature’s Democratic majority leader, argued that the county has reduced its workforce by 200 employees in the past five years. He also defended the $162,604 salary of Ray Gillen, chairman of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority. Gillen was the county’s highest-paid local government employee, according to the report.
“He has transformed Schenectady County in ways that would be hard for people to understand if they haven’t seen it for themselves,” Hughes said. “He’s worth every dollar we pay him.”
Schenectady police Lt. Mark McCracken, the department’s public information officer, declined to comment on ranking eighth on the list for the Capital Region and second for the county. He earned $157,660.
Brian Lutz, an Albany police officer the city has been trying to fire, topped the list of Capital Region local government workers by earning $177,397, which included $112,635 in retroactive pay after an appellate court reversed his 2011 dismissal.
The reported pay does not include fringe benefits such as health insurance and pension contributions, which can add more than 35 percent to the total pay, according to the Empire Center.
“The Empire Center produces this report because it is committed to protecting the right of taxpayers to know how their money is being spent,” Executive Director Tim Hoefer said in a news release. “Employee compensation is the single largest component of most municipal budgets.”
Statewide, the highest average salary for any group of local employees was $196,143 by the Long Island village of Kings Point’s 22 police officers. Forty-seven of the state’s 50 highest-paid local workers, all of whom earned more than $250,000, were employees of a police department or sheriff’s office. The state’s highest-paid local government employee, Suffolk County Correction Facility Warden Charles Ewald, earned $414,527.