Boston Police top city payroll with highest salaries, but why?

BOSTON — The payroll information for all Boston city employees in 2016 is raising questions with at least one government watchdog group.

According to Boston payroll records obtained by FOX25, one police detective earned more than $400,000 last year.

In 2016, 22,000 people earned a combined $1.58 billion from the City of Boston.

That's up from the year before by about $73 million.

The city's chief financial officer says it's "consistent with responsible fiscal management.” But some outsiders question if that's true.

FOX25’s Blair Miller pored through thousands of records for city employees to see how much they earned last year.

The city's top boss, Mayor Marty Walsh, earned $175,000.

Other city leaders fell in line with that, for example, the president of the Boston Public Library brought in a little over $179,000 last year.

At Boston Latin School, the assistant headmaster earned $174,712.

But those were nowhere near the highest.

The top earner last year was Boston Police Detective Waiman Lee, who earned $403,408.

In fact, when we looked closer, of the top 100 earners last year in Boston, 98 of them were employees with the Boston Police Department.

The other two were the superintendent of Boston Public Schools Tommy Chang, who earned $271,734, and his deputy superintendent, Dennis White, who earned $245,248.

Overall, the largest amount of salary was paid to teachers within the Boston Public Schools system. However, there is a far larger number of teachers than any other single position on city payroll – meaning the average salary is smaller than that of some others.

Law enforcement salaries include millions of dollars in retroactive pay, which was awarded last year through arbitration.

We took our findings to Sam Tyler, with the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, which tracks financial activity at city hall.

His concern is the amount of overtime being paid to police officers.

“If they're working that many hours that they earn that much in regular and overtime detail, how sharp are they and how responsive can they be?” Tyler said.

We also found the top 100 earners collectively made more than $28 million last year. And while one employee made more than $400,000, 21 other members of the BPD brought in $300,000 and up.

Nearly 500 more city workers made at least $200,000.

“The taxpayer's concern should be, ‘how long can this continue without having an impact on other services?’” said Tyler.

A spokesperson with the mayor's office said the Boston Police Department regularly reviews the hours officers work and limits the number of hours worked to ensure there are safeguards in place.

You can see the full salary data here.