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State Rep. Introduces Bill To Curb Pension ‘Spiking’

By Andy Sheehan, KDKA Investigator
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(Source: KDKA)

(Source: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At the Allegheny County Jail, some retiring corrections officers have found a way to radically increase, or spike, their lifetime pension payout.

Under law, county employees’ pension benefits are determined not only by their base salary when they retire, but the overtime they average in their last two years. So, by working lots of overtime, some are giving their pension a very healthy boost.

“Essentially in some case result in double or triple their pension payments for 25 or 30 years, so the taxpayers are really losing out,” said State Rep. Matt Smith, D-Castle Shannon.

The KDKA Investigators’ review of overtime records of corrections officers showed that several piled on the overtime in their last two years before retirement.

One officer who had been averaging $7,000 a year in overtime made an average of $30,000 in his last two years while another who made an average of $13,000 a year in overtime jumped to an average of $40,000 in his last two years.

A third who had been averaging $36,000 a year in overtime made a staggering average of $61,000 in overtime in his last two years. That means taxpayers will pay this guard an extra $40,000 a year in pension benefits.

“And those are the employees that we’ve seen some of this spiking activity with and we want to make sure that the county pension fund is solvent,” Smith said.

Smith is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate spiking by eliminating overtime for pension calculations, taking away the incentive for padding.

“My bill would save the taxpayers about $30 million over the course of next 25 years in lowering some of these pension payments,” he said.

The bill was introduced two years ago and went nowhere, but Smith says the attitude in Harrisburg has changed and he expects it to pass in this session.

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