SCHENECTADY COUNTY — Six county employees received more than $200,000 in county pay last year, with a sheriff's patrol officer topping the list.
In 2017, no county employees earned more than $200,000, but retroactive pay for union contract settlements contributed -- in some cases significantly -- to top employee pay in 2018, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information request. County Attorney Chris Gardner said a state binding arbitration settlement for about a dozen sheriff's officers significantly boosted their pay.
Robert Kennedy, a patrol officer in the Sheriff's Department, was one of those covered by the settlement and was the county's top earner. He made $216,207 before taxes and other deductions. He earned a base salary of $64,739, plus $99,653 in overtime. He also received $46,376 in retroactive pay and $5,438 in other retroactive benefits.
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The second-highest earner was Dr. Jing-Wen Chen, medical director at the Glendale Home in Glenville, who earned $215,270. Chen earned a base salary of $208,409 but also earned $5,862 in retroactive pay, in keeping with a county Legislature practice of awarding management staff the same raises as unionized employees when contract settlements are reached.
In 2017, Chen was the county's highest-paid employee, making just under $200,000.
Gardner said the arbitration settlement approved by the state Public Employee Relations Board in June was a major factor in Kennedy's pay, along with several others who appeared on the list.
The arbitration award covered 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. It awarded no raises for 2013, but boosted pay by 1.25 percent for 2014 and 1.5 percent for 2015 and 2016. Several of the officers involved in the settlement are also trained as correction officers, and Gardner said they often agree to take overtime shifts as correction officers when others aren't available.
"That's why five road patrol are on the top list, and five corrections officers," said Gardner, who is the county's 14th-ranked employee.
Of the county's top 15 earners in 2018, only six were managers. Two who frequently appear near the top of the list are District Attorney Robert Carney and Ray Gillen, the county's planning and economic development commissioner and head of the Metroplex Development Authority. Last year, though, Carney's $203,952 gross income placed him fifth on the list, and Gillen's $201,080 placed him sixth.
The county reached a labor agreement in the spring with the Civil Service Employees Association that included retroactive 2 percent raises for 2017 and part of 2018 for union members, and resulted in payouts in 2018.
Senior Department of Social Services Child Protective Services caseworker Lance Harvey earned $183,403, but county officials noted his compensation included overtime pay, call-in pay and stand-by pay for covering for other staffers on nights and weekends. The overtime pay totaled more than $100,000 last year.
Another caseworker, David Melius, received $167,054, but that included a retirement benefit payout of more than $52,000.
County Manager Kathleen Rooney, who earned $176,140 last year and is planning to retire in the spring, will qualify for a significant retirement payout, Gardner noted.
The average Schenectady County worker earns far less than top managers and police and correction officers who work significant overtime. Only about four dozen earned more than $100,000 last year.
A report released last year by the Empire Center for Public Policy found that, in 2017, the average county employee's salary in Schenectady County, which has 1,446 on payroll, was $48,634. That was the second-highest average county salary in the Capital Region, behind only Saratoga County's $51,904.
NAME JOB TITLE 2018 GROSS
1. Robert Kennedy Sheriff's patrol officer $216,207
2. Dr. Jung-Wen Chen Medical director $215,270
3. Brian Rossi Patrol sergeant $214,856
4. Jason Temple Patrol sergeant K-9 $211,571
5. Robert Carney District Attorney $203,952
6. Raymond Gillen Commissioner of Planning $201,080
7. Lance Harvey Senior caseworker, child protective $183,403
8. Kathleen Rooney County Manager $176,140
9. Michael Geraci Patrol officer $167,198
10. David Melius Caseworker $167,054
11. James Dickinson Corrections officer $159,556
12. Joseph Ryan Director of Public Works $155,196
13. Daniel LaChanski Corrections lieutenant $148,980
14. Christopher Gardner County Attorney $144,920
15. Edward Moynihan, Chief Assistant District Attorney $144,874