Following a trend within Suffolk County, Riverhead’s town police are generally paid about 30 percent more than the state average for town police, according to data released this week by Albany think tank The Empire Center.
In 2014, the average salary for a Riverhead Police Department officer was $119,326, making it almost a third higher than the the statewide average of $90,554 for a town police department officer. Riverhead’s town employees were also paid more in general than other areas with an average salary of $46,537, compared to the state average for town employees of $39,435.
Those figures follow a larger pattern with other Long Island departments since Suffolk and Nassau Counties are among the most affluent parts of the state, according to The Empire Center’s figures. Suffolk and Nassau County police officers have drawn media attention for their large salaries, though in recent years Suffolk has slightly altered its system.
“Long Island police officers dominated the list of highest-paid local government employees outside New York City in 2014,” the Empire Center’s report stated. “Thirty-one of the 50 highest-paid local government employees were police officers on Long Island, including 24 Nassau County police officers.”
The average salary for Riverhead town employees was seventh highest out of 13 Long Island towns, and the average salary for its police was second lowest out of the five East End towns, all of which have their own departments.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter was paid $122,508 — about $25,000 per year more than Scott Russell, his counterpart in Southold — according to The Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY database. Police Chief David Hegermiller was paid $219,237 and Nancy Carney, superintendent of the Riverhead School District, was paid $232,892.
The Empire Center used pay data reported to the New York State and Local Retirement System between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. In its report, the organization noted figures listed do not include benefits such as health insurance or pension contributions, “which can add 35 percent or more to the cost for taxpayers.”
Interestingly, Shelter Island’s town employees were the second-lowest paid among Long Island townships at an average salary of $42,187 while its 10 police officers were the highest paid among the five East End towns at an average salary of $131,362.
In Southold, town employee and police salaries were slightly higher than Riverhead at $48,062 and $125,018, respectively.
David Gamberg, superintendent of the Southold and Greenport School Districts, was the highest-paid public employee in Southold town at $249,109, according to The Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY database. Police Chief Martin Flatley’s salary was listed at $197,494, while Supervisor Russell’s salary is $97,327.