BY CAITLIN GILLIGAN
The number of state and local government early retirees collecting both a paycheck and public pension grew by 10 percent last year, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website.
The increase was largely driven by the 28 percent increase in 211 waivers for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services—which accounted for 145 of the 945 active “double-dippers,” up from 113 in the same time period last year.
At least 30 government retirees were approved to collect combined pay and pensions of $200,000 or more—including six exceeding combined totals of $300,000.
Section 211 of the state Retirement and Social Security Law requires public employees under the age of 65 to receive a special waiver in order to collect a public pension and a government paycheck simultaneously. However, public employers are required by law to conduct “extensive recruitment efforts” before invoking such a waiver as needed to attract qualified appointees. Without such a waiver, active public employees under 65 who are eligible to retire can still choose to file for pensions while they continue working, but their pension payments will be suspended once salary payments have exceeded $30,000 during a given year. A bill awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature would increase the threshold to $35,000.
The six individuals allowed to receive combined pensions and waivers totaling more than $300,000 are:
- Robert Sweeney, Yonkers fire commissioner, whose combined total of $394,873 includes an approved pay of up to $200,000 and a pension of $194,873;
- Thomas Krumpter, Lloyd Harbor police captain, whose combined total of $381,043 includes an approved pay of up to $238,000 and a pension of $143,043;
- Anita Laremont, New York City attorney, whose combined total of $319,209, includes an approved pay of up to $204,251 and a pension of $114,958;
- Helena Williams, Nassau chief deputy county executive, whose combined total of $316,875 includes an approved pay of up to $187,000 and a pension of $129,875;
- James Skopek, Suffolk County deputy commissioner of police, whose combined total of $309,461 includes an approved pay of up to $157,300 and a pension of $152,161; and
- Edward Welz, Canal Corporation deputy director, whose combined total of $309,006 includes an approved pay of up to $154,000 and a pension of $155,006.
The Empire Center’s database of Section 211 waivers lets taxpayers search through more than 8,800 applications, which include details such as employee names, authorized pay and employers seeking waivers.
Among the waivers in effect on January 1:
- Over 17 percent of active waivers (169) have been granted continually since January 1, 2009, suggesting individuals are using what’s meant to be a temporary arrangement on a permanent basis;
- 344 were approved for New York City, 142 going to district attorney offices;
- 279 were approved for local governments outside New York City, with the most going to Suffolk County (34), Nassau County (28) and Orange County (15);
- 197 were approved for New York State agencies, including 105 at the Attorney General’s office and 27 at the State University of New York; and
- 127 were for school districts outside New York City.
The actual number of double-dippers eligible for six-figures may be considerably higher. Waivers are only required if the retiree hasn’t yet reached age 65 and authorizing entities do not report data uniformly.