All of Yonkers’ top 100 earners in 2019 worked for the police and fire departments.
Rockland/Westchester Journal News
To help fix the city’s overtime cost, the city said vacancies need to be filled and overtime should be equally distributed across the workforce to patrol officers and others, “not just the bosses.”
For fiscal year 2018, the actual amount paid for fire department overtime came in around $12 millionThe actual amount paid out to the police department for overtime was approximately $19 millionThe Yonkers PBA chief said Yonkers should add 200 more police officers, based on Rochester’s manpower
YONKERS – Some 98 city employees took home more than $225,000 in gross pay last year, when including overtime, retirement buyouts and other extra pay.
Twenty-three of those employees pulled in more than $250,000 in total. All of Yonkers’ top 100 earners in 2019 worked for the police and fire departments.
The city argues that the means by which police and fire officials become top earners is a “culture ripe for abuse.”
“Many of the top earners are gifted extra OT (overtime) by their fellow officers as part of a long-standing practice so that those planning on retiring can pad their pensions,” city spokeswoman Christina Gilmartin said. “It’s a culture ripe for abuse and our administration has long been battling this so we can save precious taxpayer dollars.”
Officials contend that it’s very difficult for any municipality to prevent these sorts of modifications unless there’s a change in state law.
In Yonkers, the police and firefighter unions are beginning contract negotiations. The city hopes to take on those issues in a collective bargaining agreement, Gilmartin added.
Members of the Yonkers Police Department Motorcycle division. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)
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City salary records obtained by The Journal News/lohud show:
16 people made more in overtime and other extra pay in 2019 than their entire base salaries for the year.38 of the top 100 earners made more than $100,000 in overtime and extra pay.27 of the top 100 earners ended their employment with the city, entitling them to unused time or other buyouts.65 of the top 100 work for the police department while 35 are fire personnel.Buy Photo
Yonkers firefighters battle a three-alarm fire at 221 Nepperhan Avenue in the city, May 12, 2018. Mark Vergari/The Journal News (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
On the possibility of pension reform for fire officers, Uniformed Fire Officers Association President P.J. Goldfeder said, “we are so well within the limits of what New York state allows, that it’s almost comical.”
“Our overtime is monitored, we’re never in violation,” he continued.
For fiscal year 2018, the actual amount paid for fire department overtime came in around $12 million, according to the city’s budget. The actual amount paid out to the police department for overtime was approximately $19 million for the same period.
Goldfeder noted that many of the higher earners are approaching retirement or about to retire and are entitled to extra pay and pay for termination that may make their earnings appear exorbitant.
“Most of the guys that I met with had over 30 years of service and were at the top ranks of our department,” Goldfeder said. “That’s a majority of their life dedicated to this job.”
Who was paid the most?
The three highest earners in the city last year were departing employees. Here’s a look at the top 10:
Former Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Delasho. Gross pay: $299,149. Listed salary: $161,255.Former Police Detective Michael Kostewich. Gross pay: $287,169. Listed salary: $121,687.Former Police Lt. Mitchel McLaughlin. Gross pay: $286,573. Listed salary: $150,364.Assistant Fire Chief Edward Cucolo. Gross pay: $282,107. Listed salary: $161,255Former Police Capt. Andrew Lane. Gross pay: $272,958. Listed salary: $164,412.Former Police Lt. John Oakley. Gross pay: $271,178. Listed salary: $150,364.Former Police Sgt. Christopher Perrotta. Gross pay: $267,742. Listed salary: $132,161.Assistant Fire Chief John Flynn. Gross pay: $265,052. Listed salary: $161,255.Former Police Capt. Joseph Solicito. Gross pay: $262,762. Listed salary: $164,412.Police Sgt. Carl Penasso. Gross pay: $260,900. Listed salary: $132,161
Most extra pay
Kostewich, who was the second-highest earner in the city by gross pay, pulled in $165,482 in extra pay, or almost $44,000 more than his base salary of $121,687. It’s the highest amount for anyone on the list.
Former employees Delash, McLaughlin and Perrotta pulled in $137,894, $136,209 and $135,581 respectively in additional pay, according to city salary records.
Police Officer Vincent Starkey and Police Detective Dale Hughes made $135,505 and $131,110 in addition to their base salaries. Former Police Officer Betty Morales was the only other employee to exceed $130,000 of additional pay in 2019, taking home $131,110 on top of her $111,461 wage, according to city records.
Council President Mike Khader agreed with many of Yonkers’ sentiments on extra pay, going as far as to call the city’s overtime “out of control.”
To help correct the city’s overtime cost, Khader said that vacancies need to be filled and overtime should be equally distributed across the workforce to patrol officers and others, not just “the bosses.”
“You have the bulk of the overtime pie going to a small group of people,” Khader said. “What you need to do is spread that pie out. And, we have to get rid of arbitrary or discretionary overtime.”
Yonkers Police Headquarters at the Robert W. Cacace Justice Center (Photo: File photo)
Keith Olson, president of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, said the equal disbursement of overtime had been a concern for him but that the situation has improved under the tutelage of Police Commissioner John Mueller.
Olson also said that salaries look inflated because they include overtime that is paid out since there aren’t enough rank and file police officers.
The department, Olson said, should add 200 police officers. He made that estimate based on the number of officers in Rochester, which has around 200 more police officials and a similar-sized population.
“If they (the city) were to add the right amount of police officers, then you would severely reduce the amount of overtime,” he said.
Moreover, he contends that many of the people on the top earners’ list are from the higher ranks represented by the Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Benevolent Association.
The president of the CLSA could not be reached for this story.
The city lists a total of 2,781 employees, including part-time workers, for the 2019 calendar year.
The top 10 highest-paid city employees by base wage were:
1. Police Commissioner John Mueller, $210,000
2. Fire Commissioner Robert Sweeney, $200,000
3. Police Capt. Timothy Hodges, $193,960
Police Capt. Joseph Monaco
Police Capt. Christopher Sapienza
4. Deputy Mayor Jim Cavanaugh, $183,000
Deputy Mayor Steven Levy
5. Commissioner of Finance John Liszewski, $180,000
6. Former Inspector General Brendan McGrath, $176,800
7. Police Capt. Justin Barbato, $176,537
Police Capt. Daniel Campanini
8. Commissioner of IT Robert Cacace, $175,000
Commissioner of Public Works Thomas Meier
9. Police Capt. Patrick York, $172,012
10. Commissioner of Housing and Buildings Vincent Pici, $170,000
Mayor Mike Spano earns $156,100 per year.
Data reporter Frank Esposito contributed graphics.
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