Elected officials pile up pensions

| Media Coverage

On paper, James Scalzo rarely sleeps. He works full time as a cook at the Albany County jail, five days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

But he’s also serves on the Albany Common Council and, like most of his 15 colleagues, is listed as working 30 hours a week in that job at $13 an hour.

For both jobs, Scalzo, 58, is accruing pension credits in the New York State and Local Retirement System. He said he never wanted the council pension, but was told he had to be included in the system.

Scalzo is among an unknown number of local officials who are as a group racking up full-time pension credits worth millions of dollars for what is generally considered to be part-time work. In at least some cases, too, some participants accrue double pension credits, holding down regular full-time public sector jobs and elected positions.

A precise breakdown wasn’t available on Tuesday, but the state comptroller’s office lists more than 3,000 public employers, other than New York state, that offer pensions through the State and Local Retirement system.

Included in that are scores of towns, cities and counties.

And in those cities, towns and counties are elected officials who have the power to grant themselves full-time or nearly full-time retirement system credits, and who, in at least some cases, hold down full-time public sector jobs as well, allowing them to boost their pensions.

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