Overtime lands police at top of city wage earners list for 2015

The top wage earners in the City of Milford for 2015 include high ranking school officials, but some Milford police officers aren’t far behind, with overtime and other pay in some cases nearly doubling their earnings.

School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser tops the 2015 list of wage earners for school employees, with $219,802.83. Other school administrators and principals make up the rest of the top 10 list of school wage earners.

(School officials note that 2015 reported earnings for school employees are gross wages, not salaries, and that 2015 included an extra pay cycle due to the Jan. 1, 2016 holiday.)

On the city side of spending, a police lieutenant tops the list of highest 10 wage earners, with earnings totaling almost $156,000 for 2015, and other top ranking police officials and police officers are also among the city’s highest paid employees.

Overtime and shift differential pay accounts for the elevated figures, adding to the base salary for most of the police department employees on the list. Only the police chief does not receive overtime pay. The salary for the lieutenant at the top of the list, for example, was about $83,000, and the rest of the almost $156,000 he earned in 2015 is largely overtime, according to city finance records.

After the police chief and deputy chief, the highest salaries go to captains, lieutenants, sergeants and then police officers, in that order.

Police captains are contracted at about $92,000 in the 2016-17 city budget proposal, and police lieutenants at about $86,000.

Police sergeants earn about $74,000 gross pay, according to the 2015-16 budget. The base salary for police officers is about $65,000.

But overtime earnings are common with police departments, said Police Chief Keith Mello. Mello said Milford’s overtime expenditures are actually much lower than some surrounding communities, where overtime budgets are, in some cases, more than $1 million.

Milford budgets about $500,000 for regular police overtime, but that isn’t even enough to cover the cost, Mello said, adding that the department usually runs out of overtime funds around the third quarter of the year and has to find money elsewhere in the budget to cover the expense.

Mello requested $720,000 in regular overtime in the 2016-17 budget. The department used $706,000 in 2014-15, according to city records. The mayor’s budget proposal for 2016-17 reduced the department’s request to $490,000.

“I don’t consider it excessive,” Mello said. “We do a good job of managing overtime.”

The department is at full staff, but nine officers are still in the police academy, and so overtime has to be paid to fill hours those nine would be working on the streets. Overtime also has to be used when officers are sick and have to be replaced.

Some officers are willing to work 80 or 90 hours a week to fill the unmanned hours, Mello said.

In past years, officers who were about to retire often logged extra overtime to boost their retirement earnings. But Mello said adjustments to contracts for new hires state that retirement pay will be based on base salary, and not count overtime.

Top 10 city wage earners 2015
Richard Anderson, police lieutenant, $155,956.70

Thomas Bassett, police sergeant, $152,038.65

Keith Mello, police chief, $144,134.78

Robert Weymer, police lieutenant, $134,064.09

Brandon Marschner, police captain, $132,840.84

Dennis Broderick, police officer, $131,384.28

William Lugo, police officer, $130,512.01

John Simko, retired police sergeant, $129,576.03

Peter Erodici, finance director, $128,795.89

Douglas Youd, police sergeant, $128,306.35
Top 10 school wage earners 2015
Elizabeth Feser, school superintendent, $219,802.83

Susan Kelleher, director of pupil personnel services, $162,825.03

Max Berkowitz, high school principal, $152,787.37

Francis Thompson, high school principal, $152,787.37

James Richetelli, chief operations officer, $151,932.36

Catherine Williams, middle school principal, $148,582.76

Steven Gottlieb, middle school principal, $147,440.45

Clifford Dudley, elementary school principal, $147,062.43

Gail Krois, elementary school principal, $144,627.55

Carole Swift, elementary school principal, $144,570.13

(Editor’s Note: Susan Kelleher, director of pupil personnel services, has retired, but was brought back to help fill in until a new PPS director had been set. Carole Swift will be the new PPS director, starting at the close of this school year.)