Re: “Late pay raises spike Washington pension benefits” (TNT, 4-7).
I served as the Lakewood fire chief when three chief officers retired in early 2010, as recently highlighted by Associated Press reporter Mike Baker. However, several key pieces of information were left out of the article.
For instance, Greg Hull was entitled to a retirement benefit equivalent to 81 percent of his final salary (2 percent calculated for each of his 40.5 years of service). When reporting his pension amount, Baker fails to mention that Hull purchased additional retirement credits through a state program when he retired, spending more than $240,000 of his own money.
This accounted for nearly $20,000 of the reported pension amount. Hull will recoup his expenditure after 12 years of retirement.
Also, pay increases referred to in the article in early 2010 included cost-of-living adjustments negotiated two years prior. The actual figure negotiated for these gentlemen to cancel the remaining years of their contracts amounted to a 2 percent pay increase for Michael McGovern and 4 percent pay increases for Greg Hull and Bob Bronoske. This negotiation was done in good faith with the elected board and saved local taxpayers more than $700,000 over the next two years.
I agree that the Department of Retirement Systems should review these increases and if determined to be ineligible for retirement calculations, the mistake should be corrected and the increases removed. In the end, I believe all of the information should have been included in the article for proper consideration.