RYE BROOK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — When is a retiree not really retired?
For many public employees in New York State, it’s when they collect their pension but keep working.
A school superintendent in Westchester County, in fact, is raising eyebrows by going through the motions of retirement without even changing offices, CBS 2’s Lou Young reportedly exclusively on Wednesday.
The superintendent at Blind Brook-Rye schools in Rye Brook makes no apologies, even though some taxpayers are hopping mad.
“I’m angry. I’m angry because it’s not fair,” resident Lisa Marciano said.
Next month William Stark is supercharging his $258,000-a-year salary with a handsome state pension of $200,000 a year for a remarkable annual take of well over $400,000 for the head of a small school district.
In an exclusive interview, he told Young he’s just playing by the rules.
“Does this cost the taxpayers money? Yeah, it does and I’m a taxpayer as well, but this is the system that exists,” Stark said.
It’s a classic double dip, receiving a state pension and a state paycheck at the same time. But in this case Stark isn’t even changing jobs. He’s staying at the same place, retiring at the end of this month and then after two days of not working he’s going back to the same job. Critics say it’s emblematic what’s wrong with the state system.
“You have a system that was designed decades and decades ago in a very different economy and, frankly, when life expectancies were very different. The whole system needs to be overhauled top to bottom,” said Westchester County Republican John Murtagh.
“In most big corporations, if you retire, you retire,” added resident Sy Haber.
But public employees play by different rules in New York. Stark said he’d be foolish not to collect his pension now. The school district wants him and will actually save money locally by not having to pay his usual pension and health benefits.
“This really makes financial sense for the district and it makes financial sense for the superintendent, me,” Stark said.
Stark officially retires June 30 and said he’s looking forward to the two days off.
State Sen. George Latimer of Rye called for the Legislature to change the pension regulations but admitted it’s a tough lift. Several members in Albany are themselves double dippers in the state pension system.
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