In April, when the city's internal audit commission reported that at least five Hartford retirees had been back on the payroll for longer than six months -- in violation of a city ordinance -- concerns about double-dipping began to surface.
Now, Councilman Kenneth Kennedy has created a plan that would eliminate the practice -- by cutting retirees' annual salaries by the amount of their pensions.
Under Kennedy's proposal, which he plans to introduce at the council's next meeting on Monday, retired employees who come back to work for the city full-time would receive a reduced salary -- essentially, the amount at which they were hired minus their pension.
So if an employee is hired at $120,000 per year and receives a $70,000 annual pension, the employee would earn a salary of $50,000.
The proposal would apply to retirees already working for the city, and any hired in the future. It would apply only to those in non-union positions, he said.
"It's a legitimate concern, having retirees leave and then come back and get another check," Kennedy said. "With this [plan], we can let the mayor hire whoever he wants to run his administration, and we can eliminate double-dipping."
Several high-ranking city employees are retirees, including Police Chief James Rovella, corporation counsel Saundra Kee Borges and Andrew Jaffee, the head of emergency services and telecommunications.
The internal audit commission earlier this year investigated the possibility that retired workers were unlawfully employed by the city. A city ordinance, enacted in 2005, states that retired city employees "shall only be eligible to return to city employment in a temporary ... position for a maximum of six months in a fiscal year."
The mayor's office charged that the city charter supersedes the ordinance, and that the mayor can hire whomever he wants. But the audit commission recommended the council hire an independent attorney to review the matter.
The panel has not yet hired a lawyer because it is considering legislative proposals, including one by Mayor Pedro Segarra that would allow the council to waive the city ordinance for any appointments it confirms.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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