Eighty percent of Garden State county sheriffs are "double-dippers," currently employed public servants who receive six-figure taxpayer-funded salaries while collecting state pensions for previously held government positions, New Jersey Watchdog reported.
In all, the news site says state pension databases and county payroll records show 17 of New Jersey's 21 sheriffs and 29 undersheriffs are getting both paychecks and retirement payments. Among the so-called double-dipper are Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada and Undersheriffs Homer Wanamaker and Keith Armstrong.
Strada is making $107,250 annually as sheriff and an additional $28,392 per year in pension payouts. Wanamaker gets $103,473 in yearly salary and $76,248 in retirement pay. Armstrong receives a total of $172,797, comprised of $96,525 in salary and an annual pension of $76,272.
The 46 officers on New Jersey Watchdog's list collectively make $8.3 million a year, $4.9 million in salaries and pension payouts of $3.4 million.
The report called the practice "generally legal" and said the state's personnel system has loopholes that allow and perhaps encourage law enforcement officers to retire at full pension while in their 40s and then take a relatively lucrative job in another area of law enforcement.
State Sen. Jennifer Beck of Red Bank is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 601, which would halt state pension payments for retirees who return to taxpayer-funded jobs that pay more than $15,000 a year until they permanently leave the government's employ. The measure was introduced in February 2011 but is stalled in committee and thereby prevented from getting an up or down vote on the Senate floor.
The phenomenon of paying retirement benefits to public officials who are not in fact retired is a major challenge for those who administer the state pension fund, which has a $47.2 billion deficit, the article said.