Among the main sources of increasing tension between private-sector and public-sector workers in this country are the fat, guaranteed pensions that many public-sector workers get.The frustration only increases when public-sector workers “game the system” to further pad their pensions, in some cases allowing them to make more in retirement than even well-paid private-sector workers will ever earn in their lives.
There are few worse examples of public pensions run amok than in Yonkers, New York.
Yonkers Police and Fire personnel enjoy a peculiar pension system that is based on the total income received during the last year on the job.
To take advantage of this system, many workers pad their pay by working loosely affiliated second jobs — say, as a Con Ed flagman — that count as overtime.
The final year’s pay is limited to 20 per cent more than the previous year, so it’s still a three-year process beefing up a pension, but that final kicker has put some officers into a new tax bracket.
All told, 130 former cops and firemen in Yonkers are earning six figure pensions.
The New York Times profiled detective Hugo Tassone, who retired three years ago at 44 making $74,000 a year. Because of the overtime he was allowed to bring into his pension calculation, Tassone now earns $101,333 dollars every year. New York Police and Fire pensions are exempt from state, New York City, and Social Security tax.
If Tassone lives to the 77 years now expected of most men in the U.S., he can plan on receiving about $3.5 million following his retirement. This does not take into account health care and adjustments for inflation.
“It’s what the system promised,” Tassone told the Times in 2010. “I don’t understand how the working guy that held up their end of the bargain became the problem.”
The city adopted its new pension system in 2000, and its payout has increased 900 per cent since; with each of the 150 top pensions over $100,000 being received by workers who retired in the past 11 years.
“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 in an interview with LoHud.com. “Is it shame on us because we take advantage of the system? They have to change the system then.”
Business Insider has integrated the SeeThroughNY database of New York State pensions into our site. The pensions of Yonkers employees are among the highest in the state, and they are more than most private-sector employees can even dream of.
SeeThroughNY is operated by the Empire centre, and provides a wide array of government data to the public, helping to increase transparency to the citizens of New York.
Captain Messar receives a $152,581 pension for employment from Sept. 9, 1966 to June 2, 2006.
He has the 64th highest pension in New York and only the 13th highest pension in Yonkers Police Department.
Captain McMahon receives a $179,316 pension for employment from Apr. 23, 1973 to Jan. 23, 2009.
He has the 14th highest pension in New York and the highest pension in Yonkers PD.
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