NISKAYUNA – Seven of the top 10 municipal employees in Niskayuna in 2022 came from the city’s police department, with Sgt. Jeffrey Relation the city’s highest paid worker for the second year in a row.
Relation was paid a base salary of $96,748 in 2022, with overtime pay increasing his annual salary to $162,243.
Niskayuna Police Chief Jordan Kochan was the agency’s second-highest earner at $137,072 a year, with Officer John Connor earning $135,340 in 2022, with $46,089 in overtime added to his base salary of $89,251.
Kochan said the realities of staffing a 24-hour department necessitate the deployment of police overtime.
“The system in place right now is that we run a 24/7/365 operation where we have minimum staffing requirements to provide the number of police officers needed to the city of Niskayuna,” he said Thursday. “When you talk about a general consensus among police agencies, we have a nationwide and statewide police officer candidate and staff shortage. In order to provide the level of service that is necessary for our community, you have to staff the positions to the minimum staffing requirements.”
After hiring five new police officers in 2022 and losing three officers to retirement or other job opportunities, the department currently has 27 members and the city funds up to 30 employees for the agency.
“Our police budget is budgeted for a full police force of 30, and we’re working to have a full force,” City Council member Jessica Brennan said Thursday. “So in the meantime, we’ve had to have officers on overtime to make sure we’re staffed and ready for any emergency that’s called during different shifts. It’s already budgeted with an actual person, but if we don’t have a person to fill that position, then the money goes to overtime, so people are protected.”
The second spot on the city’s list is occupied by Superintendent of Water, Sewer and Engineering Matthew Yetto at $145,233 a year, with Highway Superintendent Ray Smith placing third in 2022 with an annual salary of $140,108.
“We have the highway superintendent and water and sewer supervisor, and both of those people oversee some of the most important resources in our city,” City Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said Thursday. “Each of these departments oversees millions of dollars worth of equipment to provide clean water, wastewater and neatly plowed and paved streets to our residents.”
Comptroller Elizabeth Greenwood placed sixth on the list with an annual salary of $130,890.
“She is tasked with helping put together a budget that ensures our departments are functioning well and providing services to residents,” Puccioni said of Greenwood. “When it comes time for budget season, those are some of the biggest expenses between water, sewer, transportation and the police department, so it doesn’t surprise me that these department heads are among our highest paid.”
The rest of the list is rounded out by members of the police department, with Deputy Chief Michael Stevens earning $129,631 in 2022, Lt. Joseph Twitty earning $124,926, Police Officer Jackson Archambault taking home $123,328 and Sgt. Todd Frenyea earned $122,940 last year.
Niskayuna Town Board member Jason Moskowitz said he believes the current overtime system is being well implemented by the town.
“I think it’s been pretty clear over the last year or so that we’re working hard to make sure the police department is properly staffed,” he said Thursday. “As with any 24-hour agency, such as the police department, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have overtime. There are shifts that need to be filled to make sure the city is properly protected.”
Kochan said the department has certain advantages that make the agency attractive to potential candidates.
“Honestly, it’s our community,” he said. “We have a great school district and we have a great partnership with them. It’s a great place to come and raise a family and plant your roots. There are a lot of job opportunities out there and a lot of police officer jobs out there, but we think that brand, us building in Niskayuna is very attractive.”
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna