Residents question whether waiting would save pension costs
The Bethlehem Town Board appointed three new police officers on Wednesday, Dec. 23, but not before a discussion regarding the implementation of the Tier V state retirement system and what it would mean for town finances.
The board voted 3-0 to appoint Arturo Napolitano, Robert Baldwin Jr. and James Corrigan to the position of police officer, effective Dec. 27. Council members Joann Dawson and Kyle Kotary were absent.
Residents Bob and Linda Jasinski spoke during the meeting's public comment period to suggest that the board delay the appointment of the three candidates until the new year, when the state pension system's Tier V is created. Tier V would require a member make contributions and limit the amount of overtime hours that can factor into the pension holder's payout, and is expected to save the state's retirement system $35 billion over the next 30 years.
Bob Jasinski argued that the town would save $100,000 to $200,000 in benefit costs by deferring the hiring of the applicants by one week to ensure they enter the retirement system at Tier V.
This is strictly a monetary point of view that I want to present to the town, he said. "This is taxpayer's money, they elected you to spend it wisely."
Bethlehem Police Benevolent Association President Scott Anson said that waiting to hire the officers would not make a difference in their benefits due to the contract between the town and the union.
"Based on our contract, our benefit package is pretty defined," Anson said. "They would have the same benefits that we would have had."
The discussion occurred at the same meeting that the town recognized two police officers who played a role in pulling a 15-year-old resident from a burning building on Dec. 19. Several speakers and Supervisor Jack Cunningham said that the role of police officer is unique and vital to town operations.