GLOVERSVILLE – All of the top 10 earners among Gloversville government employees in 2015 were members of the fire or police departments.
Fire Battalion Chief David Rackmyre was the city’s top-paid employee with total gross earnings of $100,416. Rackmyre, whose base salary is $59,841, was paid $20,456 in overtime. Rackmyre was the highest-paid city employee in 2013 as well. Police Chief Donald VanDeusen was the second-highest paid employee with $95,373. Police Detective Sgt. Michael Jory was third with $93,586 in earnings, police Sgt. Marc Porter was fourth with $92,877 in combined earnings, and fire Battalion Chief Michael Putnam was fifth with $90,618.
Eight out of the top 10 earners took buyouts for holiday and overtime pay.
Mayor Dayton King said he would like the city to end or reduce minimum staffing levels at the Fire Department. He said if someone calls out, another person should not have to be brought in on overtime pay. He said he plans to address the staffing numbers with the Fire Department and union.
King said he has no issue paying overtime for police or firefighters while they are doing investigations or performing fire duties. He said overtime work for active police investigations or firefighting is necessary.
“We have great men and women who keep the city safe, but we also need to watch the bottom line, and we’re working on doing that,” King said.
Fire Chief Tom Groff was unavailable for comment this morning, but told The Leader-Herald previously that minimum staff levels ensure firefighters are on hand to fight a fire at a moment’s notice.
Groff said having at least seven firefighters on hand ensures that if they are called to the scene of a fire, they can begin fighting it immediately instead of waiting for backup.
At the Police Department, a mixture of high call volumes and lower personnel staff numbers can lead to overtime pay for employees.
VanDeusen said the combination of tens of thousands of calls a year with 31 staff members can lead to overtime for department personnel. Criminal investigations also play a role in adding to an officer’s, detective’s or captain’s overtime, since they may have to be called in to investigate a case.
VanDeusen said issues can arise when someone calls out sick at the same time another employee is on sick leave or vacation. This can mean another department member will need to work the shift of the sick person, since police always have to be on duty.
VanDeusen said he has stayed under the budget for overtime in the last four years, and he plans to continue doing that.
“The pay is fair for the amount of work they are doing,” VanDeusen said.
Gross earnings for several police members fell in 2015, following an increase in 2014 due to retroactive pay.
VanDeusen said he believe all personnel in his department are paid for their ability and the level of service they provide to the community.
“The salaries here are not out of line, especially for a department with such a large volume of calls as ours,” he said.
Rounding out the top 10 earners, according to city records: 6) Thomas Groff, fire chief: $87,499; 7) Joseph Gillis Jr., firefighter: $81,430; 8) Michael Garavelli, police officer: $81,105; 9) Michael Angus, firefighter: $80,297; and 10) Brandt Minkler, fire captain: $80,260.