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Written by Mark Nichols   

In some parts of the country cops are forced to combine a crappy paycheck and welfare benefits just to put food on the table. Feeding a family and keeping the lights and heat on can get pretty challenging when you’re only making $30,000 per year. But you’re far more likely to read about the other end of the police pay spectrum in the mainstream press.

That’s because “Police pay and benefits are out of control,” is the kind of headline that used to sell newspapers and now drives page impressions and hits on websites.

But no matter where you come down on what cops should be paid for the work that they do, there are some numbers that tend to make people sit up and take notice.

According to a recent article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ramapo , New York Police Chief Peter Brower was the highest paid local employee in the state in the last fiscal year.

He earned $321,719, a report found.

That’s music to the ears of the people that sit on the other side of the table during contract negotiations.

Making public employees’ salary figures public has become something of a cottage industry for folks with groups like the fiscally conservative Empire Center For New York State Policy.

The report from the Empire Center also shows that Clarkstown, in Westchester County, had the highest average salary of any local agency. It's 163 police and fire employees had an average pay of $179,689.

"Local government is a labor-intensive business, and employee compensation is the single biggest element of most municipal budgets," the report said.

The city of Rochester's average salary for its 1,579 employees was $50,169. The average was $53,408 for the roughly 200 employees in Poughkeepsie.

All told, public employee salaries in New York average out to the mid-$40,000 range.

But it’s the eye popping executive salaries that are likely to get attention.

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