$55K raise for top cop in Floral Park budget

Noah Manskar
Floral Park’s Village Hall is seen on Floral Boulevard. (Photo from Google Maps)

The Village of Floral Park will pay its police commissioner $55,000 more in the coming fiscal year, village records show.

The village Board of Trustees voted Feb. 7 to raise Commissioner Stephen G. McAllister’s salary to $245,000 from $190,000, a 29 percent increase. The higher salary is shown in the village’s proposed 2017-18 budget, on which the board will hold a public hearing Wednesday.

The raise makes up for the fact that McAllister, a retired New York Police Department inspector, is no longer receiving his police pension on top of his salary, village Administrator Gerard Bambrick said in a written statement.

That keeps him in the post and keeps the village’s pension costs down, Bambrick said.

“This new salary is no more, and perhaps may even be less than what it would cost the village to retain a different qualified police commissioner,” Bambrick said in the statement.

Stephen McAllister, the Floral Park police commissioner. (Photo from floralparkpolice.com)
Stephen G. McAllister, the Floral Park police commissioner. (Photo from floralparkpolice.com)

McAllister received two-year waivers from the state Civil Service Commission allowing him to receive his pension in 2010, when he started as commissioner at a $175,000 salary, as well as 2012 and 2014. But he was denied a waiver in 2016.

McAllister said the $55,000 raise is about half of what McAllister received annually from his pension.

McAllister was thinking about leaving his job if he did not get a raise, as he could not have supported his family in Floral Park without it, he said. He is married and has five children, three of whom live at home.

“I’m still taking a major hit financially, but I do have the comfort of working in the village that I’m raising my family in,” McAllister said in an interview.

Hiring a new commissioner who had not retired would have increased the amount the village pays into the state’s pension fund for its police force, Bambrick said in the statement. That amount has ranged from 25 to 28 percent of total police salaries in recent years, he said.

McAllister retired from the NYPD in 2009 after a 27-year career. He was hired in 2010 to lead Floral Park’s department of 35 uniformed officers and 19 support staff members.

This year’s raise is the sixth McAllister has received since starting the job. His contract with the village does not include annual raises, but allows the Board of Trustees to increase his salary “from time to time.”

The contract also entitles McAllister to health insurance benefits and annual payouts for unused sick days, vacation days and personal days. He is not eligible for overtime pay.

McAllister said his work has led Floral Park to be ranked as one of the state’s safest communities. His new salary is closer to the average for police commissioners on Long Island, where costs of living are higher, he said.

“I think the difference is really felt, the investment that they make here in Floral Park,” McAllister said.

McAllister now makes just less than Thomas Krumpter, the acting Nassau County police commissioner, who was paid $245,446 in 2016 to oversee a department of more than 2,300 people, according to See Through NY, a payroll database published by the Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank.

His new salary is slightly above the $241,786 average for the top cops in the seven other village police departments within Blank Slate Media’s coverage area, according to See Through NY.

Figures in the database include any pay for overtime and unused sick and vacation days.

Nadia Holubnyczyj-Ortiz, president of Floral Park’s Hillcrest Civic Association, praised McAllister’s work but questioned whether the village needed to pay him so much, noting that NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill is paid less.

Holubnyczyj-Ortiz also criticized the Board of Trustees for quietly approving McAllister’s raise without any advance public notice or later disclosure.

“The issue to me is not being transparent with the taxpayers,” she said in an interview.

In an interview, Mayor Dominick Longobardi said the board’s action was reflected in public minutes, and that he has explained the raise to residents who have asked.

But at a March 9 meeting of the village’s South Side Civic Association, about a month after trustees approved the raise, Trustee Archie Cheng told residents he had not seen it in the upcoming budget.

“I’m not saying it’s not going to happen, but not yet,” he said, responding to a resident’s question.

In an interview Tuesday, Cheng said the board’s Feb. 7 vote, to his knowledge, was to include the raise in the coming year’s budget, which has still not yet been officially approved.

There was also a question in Cheng’s mind last month as to whether McAllister had earned $30,000 in salary between January and March, he said. If not, McAllister still could have received pension payments without a state waiver, Cheng said.

McAllister’s waiver was the subject of public discussion in December, when the village increased the minimum qualifications for the police commissioner’s job. Residents and Floral Park police officers charged that the change was tailored to keeping McAllister in the post, since his waiver was not renewed.

Robert Pedley, president of the Floral Park Police Benevolent Association, said McAllister’s raise is “demoralizing” to other cops since the change to village law arguably precludes them from getting the commissioner’s job.

“My feeling is that by giving him such a raise, they devalue all the rest of the Police Department, the people who actually do the job,” Pedley said.

In an interview, Bambrick said McAllister is not the highest-paid police employee when pension costs and other benefits are included. The same is true for other local police forces, according to payroll data.

Longobardi said the board voted on the raise as part of the “normal course of business” and was not trying to be clandestine. Trustees may consider handling similar situations differently going forward, he said.

“Our discussion was a deliberation of, what are our options and what is the best for the village?” he said.

The village values McAllister’s police experience and the new training initiatives he’s implemented, but also values the work its rank-and-file officers do every day and does not want them to feel demoralized, he said.

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