Many people are justifiably upset over public officials engaging in what they consider double-dipping, but what local government and school officials more politely refer to as “retire, rehire.”
The issue is currently being hotly debated on the floor of Lima City Council. It’s also been hammered on recently during board discussions at school districts in Lima, Ottawa-Glandorf, Allen East and Apollo Career Center. That list grows substantially the more years you look back.
It is hard to blame local officials or staff members for taking advantage of the current state laws. From their perspective, it is a win-win-win: An employee gets to start collecting his or her pension at the same time he or she is being paid; and the entity involved saves money on health-care costs and reduced wages. The public wins, they claim, because an experienced employee remains on a job in which he or she is well-suited.
However, as the old saying goes, “If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.”
Such is the case of rehire, retire. It is a fiscal wound that continues to slowly bleed taxpayers; one that needs more than the bandage that state lawmakers have applied in the past.
It boils down to a number’s game: The ledgers of local governments or schools will likely show a savings, however, it comes off the backs of taxpayers. They end up paying more as they must fund both the “reduced salary” while contributing the generous amount of money to a retirement fund that is being milked by double-dippers. (We don’t accept the argument that employees are funding the retirement systems, because tax levies are what pay the employees).
There are also the people issues. Retire-rehire policies are ripe for abuse through cronyism: Why are some people recommended and others are not? It also hampers promotional opportunities in the work force and the new ideas that new leaders may bring.
The state needs to revisit the retire-rehire policy and see that it no longer happens. We understand districts want to save money, and it’s legal to do, but taxpayers once again are left on the hook. That is unacceptable.