NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s perfectly legal, but to some, big pension payouts to public employees are outrageous and unaffordable, and they’re only growing.
Mark Lagerkvist of the group New Jersey Watchdog has done some digging into the elite ‘$100K Club’ of retirees and spoke with WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot.
How big a public pension can one get in New Jersey these days?
“The largest one right now is $195,000 a year. 1,500 public retirees in New Jersey, they’re getting more than $100,000 a year. We call it the ‘$100K Club,'” Lagerkvist told Cabot.
Lagerkvist said that over the past two years, the club has grown by about 50 percent.
Who are these people making all this money, which has been earned and legislated?
“It’s usually the people who make the most money – retired school executives, retired police and fire officials,” Lagerkvist said. They make up 43 percent, or 631 members, of the club.
Who’s on top of the list, getting that $195,000 year?
“There’s a tie. Former Jersey [City] school superintendent Charles Epps. Of course when he stepped down last year from his job, he also got a $268,000 contract settlement plus $85,000 a year in unused sick time,” Lagerkvist said. “Also tied at $195,000 is A.Z. Yamba, who is the former President of Essex County College.”
They are trailed by John Richardson from the Ridgefield Park schools at $185,454; Vincent Ascolese from the North Bergen schools at $180,180; and J.T. Morton from the Sparta schools at $171,773.
Among local governments, which town’s taxpayers are are supporting the biggest pensions.
“Well, we found that Paterson – the city of Paterson – fosters the most $100,000-plus pensions. There’s 29 of their retirees who are getting six-figure pensions,” Lagerkvist said. “That’s followed by Hoboken and Paramus – each with 22. North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue with 21. And Newark, Edison Township, and Jersey City Fire Department each have 19.”
Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature approved pension reform a couple of years back, but that doesn’t apply to people already in the system.
“The danger down the road is that at some point in time, it looks like there’s going to be more people drawing out of the pension system than putting into the pension system,” Lagerkvist said. “We’re talking about a pension system, Wayne, that’s already $42 billion in debt and that figure just keeps going up every year.”
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