Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller File photo: Denise Civiletti

While there was much discussion at last night’s town board meeting about Councilman John Dunleavy’s proposal for automatic annual cost of living increases for elected officials, a resolution to provide the town’s highest paid employee with a 4 percent raise was approved by the board without debate and little comment.

With Councilwoman Jodi Giglio casting the lone dissenting vote, the board raised Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller’s base pay from $173,772 to $180,792.

The resolution did not provide retroactive pay, but increased his base salary to $177,247 for 2014 and to $180,792, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Though Hegermiller won’t be paid retroactively, the new pay rate could increase the value of personal days, holiday pay and longevity payments due to him under his employment contract, as well as the value of accrued sick and vacation days the chief is entitled to sell back to the town – which he did last year for an additional $112,342 on top of his base salary.

The police chief’s base salary in 2013 was $167,024 but had already been raised to $173,771 effective Jan. 1, 2014. That’s where it remained in 2015 — until last night.

2015_1216_police_chief_salary

Hegermiller’s compensation is set by contract between him and the town. His current employment contract has a one-year term that runs from January 1 through December 31. The resolution approved last night did not address the chief’s salary in 2016.

A police officer’s base salary is just part of his or her contractual compensation.

Under the Hegermiller’s current employment contract — the terms of which are very similar to the collective bargaining agreements entered between the town and its police unions — Hegermiller, as an employee with more than 10 years in his position, gets a “longevity” payment of 4 percent of his base salary, as well as a $6,850 stipend in lieu of a night differential payment.

He is also paid an additional day’s pay — $730 per day based on his annual salary before the increases approved last night, and $760 per day after — for each of 13 holidays per year. He is also entitled to a $500 bonus if he does not use any sick days.

Hegermiller is also paid an additional $6,000 stipend for his duties as the town’s emergency management coordinator.

He is not entitled to earn, accrue or be paid for overtime or compensatory time, but he can accrue and buy back unused sick days and vacation time.

Vacation and sick time ‘buy back’ topped $112,000 in 2014
In 2014, Hegermiller was paid $112,342 for unused sick time and vacation time he accrued and was allowed to “buy back” pursuant to his employment contract.

Though his 2014 salary set by resolution of the board was $173, 772, his total compensation last year was actually $327,621.65 — not including health and life insurance policies fully paid for by the town.

Before voting no on Hegermiller’s salary increase last night, Giglio said she has “a lot of respect for the chief” but couldn’t support the resolution because “I don’t believe at this time we should be giving people raises.”

Dunleavy was the only other board member to comment on the resolution before voting. He pointed out that the raises are “not retroactive.”

However, it was not immediately clear whether the increased salary level would be used to calculate longevity, holiday and night differential pay for 2015.

During the town board’s only public budget discussion, at its Oct. 29 work session, Giglio suggested eliminating Hegermiller’s $6,000 emergency management stipend, but had no support from other board members. The board did not discuss giving the chief a raise for 2016.

Hegermiller was appointed chief of police in March 2002 at a salary of $115,000. His salary in 2005, the first year in which his annual contract went into effect — its terms have not been renegotiated except for his salary amount — was $134,859, including the stipend. It jumped to $140,253 in 2006, $146,254 in 2007 and $151,583 in 2008, including the emergency management coordinator stipend. His base pay was raised to $154,991 in 2009, without the stipend, which the town began to pay separately that year.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.