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PENSIONS: Burden on LEOFF-1, not taxpayer

Letter by Paul S. Harvey, Black Diamond on April 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm | No Comments »
April 9, 2013 2:49 pm

Re: “‘Pension spiking’ costs state” (TNT, 4-6).

This headline is a gross mischaracterization of a questionable, if not illegal, action of administrative abuse and personal advantage. The ‘spiking’ of final base salary in order to enhance pension benefit is not only contrary to the legislative intent of RCW 41.26 (applicable to LEOFF-1), but could easily be interpreted as conscious and collusive action designed to relieve local public safety costs while burdening the LEOFF-1 retirement fund (a state operated fund) with additional liabilities, enhancing some retirees’ benefits.

Since 2000, taxpayers have made no contributions to the LEOFF-1 retirement system. The system is, and has been for some time, self sustaining. That is, the administration of the ‘system’ by the Department of Retirement Systems, and the astute activity of the State Investment Board; the return on pension fund investments has kept the ‘fund’ in a positive funding mode, paying the benefits earned by a continuously reducing membership and adequately funding the future liabilities of those not yet retired.

The shift of the taxpayer burden of public safety costs to a burden on the retirement system is certainly not a welcomed situation for those of us covered by the system. However, attributing a higher cost to taxpayers because of this ‘spiking’ is not only sophomoric, it is a deliberate attempt to discredit a retirement system that has actually worked in the way it was intended. It is the pension system fund that is burdened by this shortsighted and questionable scheme to ‘unload’ senior, more expensive employees.

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