Empire Center, the non-profit think tank based out of Albany, has released its 2016-17 “What They Make” report of municipal employees’ salaries, to better understand where the largest chunk of government funds are being allocated. Once again, the Hudson Valley and specifically Rockland County are leading the pack.
Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties had the first-, third-, and fourth- highest paid general government employees in the state on average, topping out at more than $75,000. Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island rounded out the top-five, but edged out Westchester for the highest paid police. Westchester came back to claim the highest salaried fire departments, though, averaging over $133,000 annually.
Westchester claimed all five of the top paid general employees this year, those being in Yonkers, Rye, New Rochelle, Peekskill, and White Plains. Nassau took the top two slots for police and the top for fire, but Westchester filled out the remainder in both categories.
The Hudson Valley completely dominated this category across the board, save for one-shot appearances by Oyster Bay and Green Island. The top four or five averages were all in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, and Orange counties, with some of the highest numbers coming from the Town of Ramapo….
Empire Center calculates pay based on regular and overtime hours, as well as a few other factors — but not including pensions or 401(k) match or contributions over the maximum in certain municipalities, which could actually increase those totals by as much as 35% in some cases.
As a result, police officers accruing massive amounts of overtime pay rose to the tops of many regional lists. Ramapo happened to have four of the five highest paid individual employees in the state, all of them on the police force. Officer Thomas C. Donnelly of Ramapo was officially the highest paid government employee in New York, netting just shy of $442,000 for the fiscal year (more than twice his average pay for the last eight years), before reportedly retiring in August.
The second- and third-highest paid employees were also from the Ramapo police force, each earning more than $360,000. (If you’re thinking of applying for the job, the average salary for a member of the Ramapo PD is reportedly $200,352.)
Empire Center puts out its list of government employee salaries every year as part of SeeThroughNY, its drive for transparency in government spending, and an educated understanding of how to improve New York State.