Opinion 91-35


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES -- Compensation (amount of salary increases for heads of police departments)
POLICEMEN AND POLICE PROTECTION -- Police Chief (amount of salary increase pursuant to General Municipal Law, §207-m)

GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §207-m: The permanent full-time head of the police department who is not a member of a negotiating unit is entitled to a salary increase in at least the same dollar amount as that received by the highest ranking subordinate who is a member of a negotiating unit, but not to the increase received by an immediate subordinate who is not a member of a negotiating unit.

You have asked whether, consistent with General Municipal Law, §207-m, the chief of police of the village police department may receive an increase in salary equal to that given to the sergeant of the department, but less than the increase afforded the chief's immediate subordinate within the department, a lieutenant. You state that the sergeant is a permanent full-time officer and, of those subordinates who are members of a collective bargaining unit, the highest ranking subordinate to the chief. Neither the chief nor the lieutenant is a member of a collective bargaining unit.

General Municipal Law, §207-m contains the provisions of law governing minimum salary increases for the heads of municipal police departments who are not members of a collective bargaining unit. That section provides, in pertinent part, that "whenever the base salary of the permanent full-time police officer who is a member of a negotiating unit and who is the highest ranking subordinate to the head of the police department in such unit, is increased, the salary of the permanent full-time head of the police department shall be increased by at least the same dollar amount of the increase received by such next subordinate police officer."

As noted in previous opinions of this Office, the legislative intent of section 207-m was to avert a perceived trend toward salary compression of the heads of police departments who were not in negotiating units. As a result of collective bargaining agreements which covered the highest ranking subordinates of the heads of the departments, but not the department heads themselves, it was felt that an undesirable situation was being created in many police departments across the State whereby subordinates within collective bargaining units were earning the same, or nearly the same as their department heads. Section 207-m was intended to eliminate this situation by statutorily requiring that heads of police departments receive at least the same dollar amount of any increase in basesalary granted to their highest ranking subordinates in a collective bargaining unit (see 1986 Opns St Comp No. 86-23, p 39; 1984 Opns St Comp No. 84-20, p 26).

It is clear from the statutory language cited above that the permanent full-time head of the police department is entitled to a salary increase in at least the same dollar amount as that received by the highest ranking subordinate who is a member of a negotiating unit, but not to the increase received by an immediate subordinate who is not a member of a collective bargaining unit. The fact that there may be one or more subordinates to the chief outside the negotiating unit who may receive an increase in salary larger than that granted to the chief does not affect the salary increase to which the chief is entitled by General Municipal Law, §207-m (see 1978 Opns St Comp No. 78-53-A, unreported).

Accordingly, it is our opinion that under section 207-m, the chief of the village police department is entitled to an increase in salary in the same amount as that provided to the sergeant, a permanent full-time police officer who is the highest ranking subordinate to the chief and a member of the negotiating unit. The fact that the chief's immediate subordinate, a lieutenant, may receive a larger increase than the chief is irrelevant under section 207-m because the lieutenant is not a member of a negotiating unit.

September 16, 1991
Stephen W. Kretz, Esq., Village Attorney
Village of Amityville