The head doctor at the county's Glendale Home nursing home was the highest-paid Schenectady County employee last year, with District Attorney Robert Carney and Commissioner of Planning Ray Gillen not far behind.
Dr. Jung-Wen Chen, a geriatric medicine specialist who is medical director at the county-owned 210-bed nursing home in Glenville, grossed $196,835, according to records released in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. It is the first time in a number of years that Carney or Gillen has not topped the county pay list.
This was Chen's first year as a full-time county employee, according to county spokesman Joe McQueen.
"You're talking a medical doctor, so their compensation is obviously in a category by itself," said County Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, the County Legislature's majority leader.
The county's top 15 earners for 2017 included Chen, several managers, corrections officers at the County Jail and officers with the Schenectady County Sheriff's Department, who in some cases earned more in overtime than they made in base salary.
The county had 82 employees who made more than $100,000, according to the SeeThroughNY.net website. The Empire Center for Public Policy, in a report issued last September based on 2016 employee earnings, found that Schenectady County's 1,449 employees on average earned $49,265, the second-highest average among eight counties in the Capital Region. Saratoga County topped the list, with an average employee salary of $50,632, though it had fewer employees: 1,111.
"I think we have a workforce that is maybe a little older and has been with us a little longer, and it doesn't take too many folks in that category to push your average a little higher," Hughes said.
The Empire Center report found District Attorney Robert Carney was the third-highest paid county employee in the region, while Gillen ranked fifth.
According to the 2017 information, Carney last year grossed $195,457, putting him second to Chen. Gillen -- the point man on county and city of Schenectady economic development efforts -- was third, having grossed $186,456. Carney grossed less than in 2016, but county officials said management salaries can vary from year to year because gross income includes an optional health insurance buyback, gym incentives and vehicle use reimbursements when applicable.
Hughes noted that Carney, who has been district attorney since 1990, has his base salary set by the state. He said Gillen, who also heads the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority as part of his job, is worth what he is earning.
"With Ray, you have got to keep in mind he is managing an economic development portfolio of $1.4 billion," Hughes said. "When you look at job creation, he is worth what we're paying him, and he could make a lot more in the private sector."
The top non-management earner, and fourth-highest overall, was Corrections Lt. Daniel LaChanski, who grossed $179,116, including a $76,373 base salary and $97,844 in overtime. Six of the top 10 employees were law enforcement officers who earned their high salaries based on overtime.
Sheriff Dominic Dagostino has said he counts on the willingness of the highest-paid employees to work overtime hours
Top 15 Schenectady County employees by income:
- Dr. Jung-Wen Chen, medical director Glendale Home, $196,836.
- District Attorney Robert Carney, $195,457, base of $194,416, $1,041 in other compensation.
- Commissioner of Planning Ray Gillen, $186,456, base $181,693, $4,762 other compensation.
- Corrections Lt. Daniel LaChanski, $179,116, base $76,373, overtime and other, $102,742.
- Sheriff's patrol Sgt. Brian Rossi, $164,243, base $69,766, $94,477 overtime and other.
- Corrections Officer James Dickinson, $163,592, base $60,407, $103,184 overtime and other.
- Patrol Sgt. Jason Temple, $160,873, base $71,160, $89,712 overtime and other.
- Patrol Officer Robert Kennedy, $156,913, base $63,025, $93,887 overtime and other.
- County Manager Kathleen Rooney, $154,868.
- Corrections Lt. Ronald Walsh, $150,554, base $75,008, $75,544, overtime and other.
- Finance Commissioner Deborah Mancini, $139,007.
- Public Works Commissioner Joseph Ryan, $139,007.
- Chief Assistant District Attorney Edward Moynihan, $137,791.
- Corrections Lt. Michael Nealon, $136,920, base $76,373, $60,547 overtime and other.
- County Attorney Christopher Gardner, $132,890, base $132,585, $415 other.