The News reports that some HIGHLY PAID Cumberland County officials are double dipping – receiving generous retirement pensions as well as working full-time jobs that pay substantially more than the average household income for the county.
The Democrats in the county are quick to wage class warfare when it suits them. They are quick to jump on the “double-dipping” bandwagon when a Republican collecting a pension runs for office. But it turns out there are skeletons in their closet. Eight to be exact.
While budgetary struggles and poverty proliferate through Cumberland County, a number of public employees here are enjoying what some are calling “double-dipping” — accepting salary for a current job while also receiving pension payments for retirement from a previously held position.
Five employees at the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the county Sheriff and Undersheriff, are among 168 such “retirees” employed throughout the state, according to an investigative report by Mark Lagerkvist on the New Jersey Watchdog website.
We can start with our incompetent sheriff Bob Austino. Austino is a man who, as a citizen, took the law into his own hands rather than allow the local police department to do their duty. He has no business being the top law enforcement officer in this county. He made a big stink about being willing to do the job for less than the legally mandated salary.
If you went to Walmart and offered to work for less than minimum wage, Walmart would have to say, sorry, we cannot do that. It is against the law. Rather than lobby to have the law setting the minimum salary for sheriff changed, Austino chose to violate it. It is obvious that he doesn’t need the salary, after all the taxpayers are paying him a hefty $60,000 a year in pension in addition to his $75,000 salary.
Now I have mixed feelings about calling a retired person living on a pension and also working a double-dipper. We have many senior citizens that worked their entire lives, paying into their retirement or to social security. If they want to be a greeter at Walmart to help pay their ever increasing tax bills (which are increasing because self-serving politicians like Bob Austino think they have a right to retire in the top 1% on taxpayers’ backs) they have every right.
But there is a problem inherent in a system where it is commonplace for people to work and retire after a mere 20 years of service with a hefty pension, and then to go right back into the same system they just retired from. The idea of allowing retirement after 20 years is that the job is more stressful than another job. Okay, I’ll bite. If you want to make that argument, then you have no business whatsoever going BACK into that same field after you retired. Become a Walmart greeter! Oh, but if you do that you cannot as one person bring home three to four times the median HOUSEHOLD income of the majority of Cumberland County residents. Yes – that is HOUSEHOLD INCOME. Most households have two or more people working, if they are lucky enough to have a job in the worst run county in the state. Many have to work more than one job – just to earn 1/3 of what Bob Austino is earning for mismanaging the Sheriff’s Department.
What we are faced with is not a legal issue – this sort of double-dipping is not illegal the way the laws are currently written. It is an ethical issue. A person that works and retires at the earliest possible time from a “stressful job” is at the very best a scoundrel and liar when they take another job in the same field. It must not have been that stressful then, eh? They are opportunists, and taxpayers look the other way and allow them to continue to live large on the public dole. Austino is a really bad example – he is so incompetent that he had to hire TWO undersheriffs (and Norm Franckle is yet another double-dipper) because he was unable to do the job, unlike his predecessor, with only one.
The real issue here is that New Jersey taxpayers are being dragged over the coals to pay retirees to increase their stations in life.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation revealed that 125 retired law enforcement officers throughout the state are collecting a total of $18.5 million a year — $8.6 million in annual retirement pay, and $9.9 million in salaries at county and state prosecutors’ offices.
The current laws need to be changed to take into account early retirements. Anybody that retires at age 40 and decides to take on another job (often with yet another pension or retirement program) should be forced to delay collecting their publicly financed pension until they really ARE retired. At the very least, they should have the moral backbone to do what is right in the eyes of the taxpayers paying their salaries, and voluntarily stop collecting their pensions and stop bankrupting the county. Cumberland County has a $TEN MILLION budget deficit, and Bob Austino is laughing all the way to the bank.