Vote scheduled on bill to end Baltimore County enhanced pension payouts

The Baltimore County Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to end a pension policy that could grant generous payouts to top officials, including the county executive.

Councilwoman Vicki Almond has proposed eliminating the policy that was created in 2010, allowing certain employees to retire from one county position and return to another position, while earning both pension benefits and a paycheck.

Three top officials are due to receive two pension checks plus a lump-sum payment when they leave county employment for good: County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, environmental director Vincent Gardina and Kamenetz’s lobbyist Sam Moxley.

All three voted for the policy when they were council members in 2010.

Their lump-sum payouts will represent the value of pension checks earned during their years on the council that they haven’t been receiving while working in their current county positions. Kamenetz’s lump-sump payout is estimated to be $384,000.

A fourth top official, Arnold Jablon, director of permits, approvals and inspections, will receive a lump-sum payout but not a pension check when he retires for good.

Normally a retired employee who returns to work for the county would have to choose between receiving either their pension check or a paycheck. Receiving both at the same time is often criticized as “double-dipping.”

Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat, is pushing the legislation even though the council’s lawyer has advised that it might not be legal to strip employees of their vested pension benefits.

The council is also considering a bill that would allow a version of the pension policy to continue for retired county employees who return in part-time public safety jobs.

More than 30 retired police officers are working in part-time police and detention center positions, earning both a pension check and a paycheck. They will not receive lump-sum payouts and are not earning second pensions.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse, 400 Washington Ave. in Towson.

pwood@baltsun.com

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