Riverhead Town Hall on Dec. 15, 2022 Photo: Denise Civiletti

Updated – Jan. 6, 6:36 a.m.

Pay raises approved by the Town Board Wednesday for 11 salaried town employees rankled the town’s civilian labor union.

The increases total just under $48,000.

Employees receiving the bump in pay include three department heads: Building and Planning Administrator Jefferson Murphree, whose annual salary was increased 3%, from $133,753.48 to $137,766.08, Recreation Superintendent Ray Coyne, whose annual salary increased 4%, from $114,685.18 to $119,272.59, and Town Engineer Drew Dillingham, who saw a 5.5% raise, from $136,163.89 per year to $143,663.89.

Other department heads received salary increases pursuant to their contracts with the town, and those increases are reflected in the general employee salary schedules approved by the Town Board Wednesday, Financial Administrator William Rothaar said.

All the increases were already included in the 2023 adopted budget, according to Rothaar.

Riverhead Civil Service Employees Union President Terri DeFilippis objected to the increases in a statement issued after Wednesday’s meeting.

The CSEA’s collective bargaining agreement with the Town of Riverhead covered the period Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2022. The agreement provided 4% base salary increases over four years, plus 4% increases in salary steps determined by the contract.

“It is disturbing and hurtful to our members, as we push through pandemics and inflation, that we took low wages in good faith, during hard financial times for the town, and CSEA members are still being left in the cold while management and administration will receive a larger dollar amount right now than we have over the past decade,” DeFilippis said.

The increases approved Wednesday especially peeved the union because last January the Town Board approved another batch of raises for department heads and some of the town’s other highest-paid civilian employees.

“Over the course of 8 years, the CSEA has received a total of 5.5%, while management collectively received over eight years between 13 – 37 %, of their much higher salaries, averaging 16.883%,” DeFilippis said.

When the CSEA contract is settled, the employees singled out for pay raises outside the contract — including department heads — will also get whatever increase is negotiated for the union, Defilippis said. Rothaar confirmed this to RiverheadLOCAL.

“Our wages do not keep up with the cost of living or health insurance rate increases,” DeFilipis said, “and it is starving our members while management takes the residents’ taxes for their raises to make sure they ease through the turmoil as we scrape by,” she said.

Riverhead civilian employees are, on average, the lowest paid of employees in the five East End towns, DeFilippis said. Union officials compared 45 randomly chosen job titles for comparison, she said.

While the union is now negotiating a new contract with the town, and will continue to bargain in good faith, the unit president said, the sides remain far apart. DeFilippis called the current negotiations “a slow ordeal with little monetary movement for the CSEA employees.”

Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in an email today the CSEA is “complaining about raises they previously negotiated and approved through past contracts.”

Contract negotiations are “ongoing,” the supervisor said, and management is “confident a fair and reasonable contract will be mutually agreed upon, as in the past,” Aguiar said.

“We remain committed to the negotiation process and look forward to continuing this important dialogue around a table, face to face, with representatives from both sides – not back and forth via the press,” the supervisor said.

Editor’s note: This article was amended after its initial publication to clarify information about department head salary increases contained in the original version. The information first published regarding Water District Superintendent Frank Mancini was incorrect. Mancini’s contract calls for a cost of living increase keyed to the Consumer Price Index.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.