Shores council to reconsider pension vote
A testy issue about the pensions of three retired Indian River Shores employees will be decided by the town council next week as it considers rescinding a unanimous decision made Jan. 24.
That January decision eliminated the monthly pensions plan for three town retirees, replacing them with a lump sum payment equal to about nine years of those monthly payments. The three retirees said what the decision did was put them in the scary position of needing to die before running out of money.
“Not an enviable position to be in,” said retired town manager Virginia Gilbert, who along with the two other retirees, has parents who lived into their 90s.
The vote to eliminate the pensions of Gilbert, 69, retired town clerk Barbara Readdy, 72, and postmaster Alice Hayslip, 70, and award them payouts came after a confusing discussion at the January meeting that led two council members – Mayor Tom Cadden and Vice Mayor Jerry Weick – to later say they didn’t understand what they were voting on.
Council member Mike Ochsner said he understood what he voted on but said he later realized the vote was taken “with insufficient information, which caused misunderstandings.”
Ochsner said he wanted to look into how the lump sum payouts could be wisely invested by the three retirees so their monthly return would practically equal their former monthly pension checks.
With the monthly pension checks, Gilbert is scheduled to receive about $28,000 a year for the rest of her life, Readdy $11,200 a year, and Hayslip $9,000 a year.
If the January vote stands, Gilbert will get a lump sum payment of $266,000 instead, Readdy $97,000 and Hayslip about $83,000. The lump sum amounts are equal to about nine years of the monthly checks.
At a meeting last week of the town’s finance committee, which Ochsner heads, he said he had looked into investment options for the retirees and learned that if they bought annuities with the payouts, the best they could do was make about a third less a month than they got with their pension checks.
“An amount so greatly reduced, it’s not morally responsible to insist on it,” said Ochsner.
He asked the four other finance committee members to join with him in a unanimous vote to recommend to the town council that the January vote be rescinded in favor of keeping the three retirees on the monthly pension check system.
All of the finance committee members in attendance – Fritz Blaicher, John Porta, Larry Pesin and Hap Schroeder – agreed with Oschner and voted to recommend to the council that it rescind the January vote to eliminate the pensions for the three retirees at the March 21 council meeting.
“If they rescind the January vote to end our pensions, and we keep getting our monthly checks or a larger lump sum payout, that will be a wonderful thing and a huge relief,” said Readdy.