James M. Davis worked for the city of Bayonne until June 30, 2014. According to the PFRS handbook with a salary of $175,441 and over 25 years of service he should have started getting an annual pension of about $119,300 as of July 1, 2014 but, as it turns out, on July 1, 2014 he got a new job as the mayor of Bayonne at an annual salary of $72,000 which precludes him from getting his PFRS pension under a 2012 pension reform law.
As it happens this Monday S2789 “Volunteers in Public Service Pension Reform Act” put forward by Brian Stack and Nicholas Sacco (both D-Hudson) was introduced:
This bill provides that if a member of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) resigns from PFRS-covered employment to comply with common law doctrine of incompatibility of positions in order to assume an elective office not covered by PFRS with the same employer, the member’s retirement will be considered mandatory. The member will receive a retirement allowance while in the elective office, and may receive compensation as an elected official for that elective office, notwithstanding that the elective office is with the same employer from whose employment the member retired.
Currently, PFRS will not pay a retirement allowance to a person in this situation because the former employment was, and the elective office is, with the same entity. The bill provides that it will be effective if the qualified status of PFRS under federal law can be maintained upon its application.
The bill is consistent with the public policy of encouraging persons in public employment to seek elective office to share skills and experience because it eliminates the disincentive of the postponement of an earned PFRS pension benefit if the retiree resigns and assumes an elective office with the same employer.
The ironic part is that James Davis is already in public office so he does not need any more encouragement. What he does apparently need is an extra $119,300.
According to an nj.com story a spokesman for Sacco said the bill was not written specifically for Davis.
“Senator Sacco’s bill is designed to ensure that public safety workers like police officers and firefighters are able to exercise their right to run for local office and represent their communities without forfeiting the benefits they have worked for during their careers,” said the spokesman, Phil Swibinski, in a statement. “The Senator has worked with the State PBA and FMBA (unions) on this legislation with a goal of encouraging more public safety officials to put their experience to use in local elected office. The bill is not intended to affect any one person, but rather to empower the public safety community in the state as a whole to continue giving back.”
And by ‘giving back’ they mean ‘taking’.
S2789, again introduced two days ago, is scheduled for a committee hearing tomorrow and could become law with the next legislative quorum and a Christie visit yet a revamp of a bankrupt pension system remains on hold as the focus of politicians continues to be on incentivizing themselves.