The Chief

December 22, 2000

 

Pataki Signs Police Pension Legislation

by WILLIAM VAN AUKEN

 
Robert Zink: Grateful to Governor  

Governor Pataki signed into law two key pieces of pension legislation sought by the police unions: a bill allowing cops who take child-care leave to buy back the time for retirement credit; and another that allows police officers to transfer prior service credit from other retirement systems.

Also signed by the Governor in a flurry of bill enactments Dec. 8 was legislation granting an enhanced death benefit to survivors of correction officers who die as a result of an accident occurring in the performance of their duties.

'Victory for Female Cops'

"The child-care credit is a great victory for the female officers," said Robert Zink, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association's recording secretary and political action director. 'It will help them not only in their police lives but also in their family lives." Male officers who take leave for child care would also be eligible, Mr. Zink noted.

The PBA official estimated that at least 1,000, cops would benefit from the prior service bill. In both cases, he said, eligible officers could use the time 'up front,' allowing them to retire earlier. "Unfortunately, a lot of our guys want to move on," he said.

The child-care legislation allows members of the Police Pension Fund to buy back up to one year of credit for each period of authorized child-care leave. Such leaves taken after the birth of a child or an adoption are unpaid once a cop uses up sick time.

The cost to the member would be the amount that he or she would have contributed to the pension fund during the time they were absent for child-care leave, together with interest.

To receive credit for the leave time, members must file an application with the pension fund by Dec. 31, 2001 or within 90 days following the end of the child-care leave, whichever is later.

The new law allowing the transfer of prior service credit to the Police Pension Fund is available to cops who would have been eligible to make such a transfer prior to June 30, 1992 but failed to do so. The measure provides another one-year window in which police officers may, switch the service credits by filing an application with their original public employee retirement system.

The two new pension pieces cap a year that saw the Governor also sign into law the death gamble bill enhancing benefits for survivors of cops who die on the job after they would have been eligible for retirement, as well as a five-year vesting bill and an increased take-home pay piece that was negotiated between the city and the Municipal Labor Committee as part of a pension re-start deal.

"Governor Pataki has been very good to us," said the PBA recording secretary.

COBA's Dividend

The Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, another union which like the PBA endorsed Governor Pataki in 1998 and Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio and George W. Bush in 2000, also received an end-of-year benefit.

The new law provides a special accidental death benefit for uniformed members of the Correction Department who, die as a result of an accident sustained while on duty. It provides jail officers with the same benefit that presently covers cops and firefighters.

A deceased correction officer's spouse would be entitled to his or her full salary for the rest of their life. If there is no spouse, the same benefit would go to children under the age of 18, or age 23 if they are students.

Previously the accidental death benefit for correction officers amounted to only half of final salary.

"This is a benefit that is long overdue," said COBA President Norman Seabrook. 'I would like to thank Governor Pataki, who has made Correction Officers equal partners in this state as far as benefits are concerned."