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Greensboro—Taxpayers United of America (TUA) today released the results of a new pension study of Greensboro and Winston-Salem municipal, and Guilford and Forsyth County government retirees.
“North Carolina lawmakers have only flirted with reforms of the government pension system, and not without boosting their own pensions,” stated Rae Ann McNeilly, Director of Outreach for TUA. “North Carolinians have been led to believe that their system is in good health, but with inflated actuarial practices and a limping economy, meaningful reforms are imperative.”
“While residents across North Carolina face crushing taxes, falling home values, 9.3% unemployment, and a painfully slow economic recovery, government employees continue to receive stunning pensions largely funded by taxpayers who will never collect more than about $22,000 a year from Social Security.”
“North Carolina is the 18th state in our nationwide pension reform tour and the results are consistent with our findings across the country: government pensions are out of control. Across the country, millions of bureaucrats are being paid billions, to do absolutely nothing!”
“The purpose of our study is to put some perspective around individual pensions, to put them in terms to which the average taxpayer can relate. Taxpayers need to know how much North Carolina’s government retirees are being paid not to work and the astronomical accumulation of those payments over an average lifetime. Hundreds of government retirees’ pensions being released today will accumulate to millions of dollars in payouts.”
McNeilly continued, “For example, Sharon S. Ozment, retired at age 56 from the Guilford County Schools and collects an annual pension of $133,765. Her estimated lifetime pension payout is stunning $4,496,776.*”
“J. E. Kitchen, retired from Greensboro municipal government at the age of 56, has an annual pension of $114,993, with a staggering estimated lifetime payout of $3,613,944.* ”
“Retired Winston-Salem Municipal government employee, James Allen Joines, has a lifetime estimated pension payout of $2,731,826*, with an annual pension of $79,142, having retired at 52.”
View pension amounts below:
- Charlotte Municipal Top 100
- Forsynth County Government Employees Top 100
- Greensboro City Government Teachers Top 100
- Greensboro Municipal Government Employees Top 100
- Guilford County Government Employees Top 100
- Guilford County Government Teachers Top 100
- Mecklenburg County Employees Top 100
- Mecklenburg County Teachers Top 100
- North Carolina State Legislators Top 25
- North Carolina State Government Safety Employees Top 100
- North Carolina State Government Employees Top 100
- North Carolina State University Employees Top 100
- Raleigh Municipal Government Employees Top 100
- Wake County Government Teachers Top 100
- Wake County Government Employees Top 100
- Winston-Salem Municipal Government Employees Top 100
- Winston-Salem Forsyth County Government Teachers Top 100
“North Carolina’s government pension systems are crushing middle class North Carolinians. Government employees should be paid a fair wage for the work they do today so they can save for their own retirement. Replacing defined benefit pensions for all new government hires with social security and 401(k)s would eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions. Current government employees must consider a voluntary pension contribution of up to 10% to preserve their pension benefits. Additionally, all members should pay for 50% of their healthcare premiums. We need a stable system that is fair to both taxpayers and beneficiaries or pension checks will stop coming,” added McNeilly.
*Annual pensions are actual amounts provided by the respective fund. Lifetime estimates include the sum of the pension paid to date and the projected remaining payments with a 1% COLA. Uses a life expectancy of 85 (IRS Form 590), the actual retirement date and age at retirement
My husband worked for Guilford County during the same years most of those people you list in your article did, from 1980 to 2005. He took an early retirement option with 25 years of service, buying back some of his retirement pay for the three years he had worked full time hours as a part time employee. He used money transferred from his 401k account to do this. He was a 911 dispatcher who worked night shifts at first from 6pm to 6am, then around 2000 he was put on daytime from 6am to 6pm. They had several different ways of doing the shifts, but basically he worked three and a half days and was off three and a half days. He did not have holidays, and since they were always understaffed it was really difficult for him to get vacation time. When he left he had over a month and a half of sick/vacation time built up to put toward the time for his leaving date. During his 25 years there he had donated many weeks of sick time to others who needed it for family or personal medical time off after they had run out of theirs. He also worked extra shifts on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and New Year holidays so families with children could be at home since we didn’t have any. He worked extra shifts during emergencies and hazardous weather, I know there were many early mornings that I’d worry about him until he called me letting me know he’d gotten to work safely, and laughing about how his tiny Mazda truck had pushed snow all the way from Brown Summit to Wendover.
So what’s my point? When he retired in 2005 with 25 years of service, he was allowed to buy into the County’s health insurance program, but we have to pay the entire amount of the premium. We feel really fortunate that we had insurance coverage, but at that time our premium was about $1,000/month (About four years later that was reduced to $750, and in 2014 it will go down to about $600, but this is because of my being on disability and the cost of the Medicare supplemental program they have brokered).
So he left with the benefit of buying medical insurance from the County for $1,000 a month. He had a 401k plan that we have left alone, but cannot contribute to because we cannot mix any other earned funds other than government ones. And his monthly retirement pay is $650/month. Yep. Twenty-five years of getting up at 4 in the morning while working the day shift; getting home at 7 in the morning after working the night shift and sleeping all day; missing holidays with nieces and nephews AND ME; no real weekends; working a second job to supplement his crazy pay that peaked at around $32,000 a year; working at being a professional dispatcher no matter what kind of crap was thrown at them from the administration; carrying the workload when others were slackers; being missed to this day by field people who remember his voice on the radio – and he gets his retirement pay from Guilford County of $650/month, and we’ve been paying $750 and up a month just for our health insurance.
The people you listed in your article are NOT the norm for retirement pay to government employees. To reform the system so it affects everyone would further reduce the pay for people like my husband, and when you logically look at his situation that’s just stupid. What needs to be done is to look at how and why these people get so much retirement pay when they leave their jobs, and the included benefits they are given, like free health care for them and their families. It pisses me off, every time I read about it, it really makes me mad. I worked there too during those times, and I know they didn’t do any more work during any more stressful times than my husband did, so there’s no excuse for the fact that Ms. Ozment gets a monthly retirement check that’s $10,512 a month more than my husband. It’s just sickening to me.