Police dominate list of top earners in Saratoga Springs
Chief: Overtime driven by staffing concerns
SARATOGA SPRINGS Seven of the highest-paid Saratoga Springs employees are police officers while the top earner, Bradley Birge, is the city’s administrator of planning and economic development.
City police Chief Christopher Cole said the reason his police officers are generating so much overtime is because his department is short-staffed.
Three years ago there were 72 city police officers. Today there are 54, he said.
In the past year the police department has seen five retirements, three people leaving for other jobs and one forced resignation (officer Edward Braim).
“I have to make sure I have enough cops on the street to answer the calls,” Cole said. He said between 40 percent and 50 percent of the police overtime is driven by staffing the patrol division.
Edward Lewis, who retired in September, was the highest-paid police officer in 2012.
His $117,012 total pay was the result of one-time retirement payouts on sick time, personal time and vacation time along with overtime, Cole said. Lewis’ base pay was approximately $65,000 in 2012.
Birge, who was also the city’s top earner in 2011, was paid $123,798 in 2012. He was paid $118,470 in 2011. His position includes coordinating the city’s overall planning activities, including the city’s Design Review Commission, as well as handling economic development grants and initiatives.
The third-highest-paid city employee is Kevin Kling, head of the city’s Internet Technology (IT) department, with annual pay of $116,689. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said Kling, a member of her department, had been working a 33-hour week in recent years at approximately $96,000 per year but had his hours increased to 40 hours in 2012 with a corresponding increase in pay.
Kling is often called into work on evenings and weekends to repair computers and for server problems, including police computer problems. Madigan said he does not charge the city overtime but takes compensatory time.
“He’s the guy who gets called in the middle of the night,” Madigan said.
Next on the list is Lt. John Catone, the police department spokesman as well as head of the investigations or detective division. He was paid $111,811 in 2012.
Cole said Catone is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Catone said his overtime pay could be even higher but he doesn’t put in for all his off-duty work.
“Somebody’s got to do the work,” Catone said. Catone deals with calls from reporters and provides daily press releases.
Cole said four of the highest-paid city employees on the list are patrol officers who generated many overtime hours because of the staffing problems. Cole himself, who was paid $102,000 in 2012, is not among the city’s top 10 earners.
Only one firefighter is on the list: Capt. John Kirkpatrick, who was paid $107,409 in 2012.
City Fire Chief Robert Williams said there are two vacancies on the fire department staff that caused almost 40 percent of the department’s overtime payouts. He added that the department staffing was also reduced by off-duty injuries and illnesses in 2012.
At a glance
A look at the top 10 earners in Saratoga Springs in 2012, provided to The Daily Gazette after a Freedom of Informational Law request:
Bradley Birge, $123,798
Edward Lewis, $117,012
Kevin Kling, $116,689
Lt. John Catone, $111,81.
Patrolman Anthony Straus, $111,769
Patrolman Mark Leffler, $110,048
Patrolman Thomas Sartin, $108,311
Fire Capt. John Kirkpatrick, $107,409
Patrolman Travis Carter, $107,228
Investigator Laura Emanatian, $105,338