City employees may get more retirement benefits

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

The retirement pot will be sweetened for some longtime city employees whose pay exceeds their maximum salary range.

On June 15, about one month after a veteran police office filed a lawsuit charging that the city had not accurately reported his creditable income to the Virginia Retirement System, the Suffolk City Council adopted an ordinance allowing pay for performance for employees at the top of their pay scales.

The ordinance also calls for the city to revise the amount of creditable income it reported and contributed to the VRS between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2005 for those employees. In the past, when employees were paid in excess of their salary ranges, the city only reported the maximum salary for their respective pay grades as creditable income.

Email newsletter signup

The council’s action came of the heels of a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Circuit Court last May by Officer John K. Cooke, in which he alleged that the city had classified

some of his income as &uot;supplemental…in order to avoid reporting the compensation and therefore being responsible for less VRS contributions&uot; on his behalf.

On Friday, Cooke declined to comment, referring all questions to his attorney, Michael Imprevento.

The state uses the last 36 months of creditable income to determine the retirement of senior employees, Imprevento said. Under state law, supplemental and overtime pay count toward creditable income.

&uot;If pre-retirement earnings are not calculated correctly, it could mean financial hardship for these veteran employees later,&uot; said Imprevento.

Although the ordinance appears to satisfy issues brought forth in Cooke’s suit, Imprevento is waiting to see the revised retirement calculation the city files with the VRS.

The new ordinance applies to all city employees, said Dennis Craff, the city’s communications director. The human resources department will be reviewing and making appropriate adjustments to VRS for eligible city employees impacted in coming weeks.

But only veteran employees whose pay exceeded the top of their respective salary scales are eligible, he said.

He was unsure how many employees will be impacted by the ordinance or how much it would cost the city in additional retirement contributions.