State retirement officials have ordered DuPont city officials to pay a total of $600,000 for incorrectly classifying three current and former city employees as independent contractors.
An audit released Friday by the state Department of Retirement Systems found that Fire Chief Greg Hull wrongly received retirement pension payments while contracting to run the south Pierce County city’s fire department. It held the city liable for them because it did not report accurate information to the state-run pension system. Officials said the amount totaled $555,000.
The audit also ordered the city make contributions owed to the system from two other employees, the former museum coordinator and former police chief. Officials said that amount totaled $45,000. It found the two individuals and city should have paid into the system but had not because officials classified them as contractors instead of employees.
Lastly, the audit found the city rehired a retiree to fill in as finance director without informing the state agency. The agency ordered the city to report the employee’s hours and compensation.
The bill is the latest fallout from a series by The Associated Press in April about public pensions that led to the state agency to review DuPont’s use of independent contractors.
Hull, who earned his pension after a 40-year career with the Lakewood fire district, will resign today after being notified by the state agency May 20 that it was stopping his monthly pension payments.
The AP story reported that Hull’s status as a contract fire chief allowed him to continue receiving his retirement pay while he was being paid by DuPont. His total annual compensation: more than $300,000 a year, including $184,000 from his pension.
Retirees paid from the so-called LEOFF-1 pension system can return to work as independent contractors with no impact on their pensions, but retirement pay can be impacted if that same retiree is hired to a LEOFF-1-eligible position and is deemed a city employee.
State officials say the city can appeal the decision.
You’re invited to follow Christian Hill on Twitter @TNTchill.