The Journal News has posted the annual pensions of 335,648 retired state and local government employees in a searchable data base (here).

Included are retirees of the Common Retirement Fund, which covers employees of state agencies and local governments outside New York City as well as non-teaching school district employees. The data was acquired from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli with a Freedom of Information Law request.

In an related story (here), the newspaper examines pensions of retired police and firefighters in Yonkers.

…more than 90…Yonkers police and firefighters are among the 160 municipal retirees from the Lower Hudson Valley with annual pensions exceeding $100,000–including four top administrators at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla during the hospital’s financial crisis this decade. The windfalls, certainly in Yonkers, are generally the result of overtime pay.

For example, “nearly half of the more than 300 Yonkers police and firefighters who retired this decade getting pensions that exceed their base pay.”

Of those, the pensions for eight retired cops actually top their regular salary by more than 60 percent. Former Detective Walter Moray’s $140,727 pension was more than 75 percent higher than his salary when he retired three years ago.

City officials are trying to reduce overtime in Yonkers. A former police union official defends the high payouts.

“Your brains have to take over at some point and say leaving is going to help me financially,” said Thomas Drexel, former president of the Yonkers Police Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants Association who retired last year as a detective lieutenant. His $136,339 pension was aided by $109,919 in OT his final year. “Is it shame on us because we take advantage of the system? They have to change the system then.”

In addition to overtime, police and firefighters can boost their final average pay used to calculate their pensions by cashing in on used sick time and vacation time, as provided by the union contracts.

For example, Yonkers Police Lt. John Conroy’s base pay was $99,135 at the time of his retirement. However, he collects an annual pension of $259,196. It is based on $135,716 in overtime, $8,904 in longevity pay, $5,147 in retroactive payments, $4,703 in used sick pay and $5,591 in unused holiday pay.

Governor David Paterson’s proposal to curtail future pension costs by creating a new pension tier so far has gotten a chilly reception from the state Legislature.

That’s despite state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s warning that employer pension costs will increase in 2010 to 11.9 percent of total wages for general employees and 18.2 percent for police and firefighters.

Paterson’s Tier V proposal doesn’t go far enough to address future pension liabilities, according to E.J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center (here). Also today, he notes the Journal News pension figures reveal the size of pensions grew in the past year (here).

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

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