New York Daily News

July 24, 2002

Civil Service: Ruling boosts Transit, Housing cops

BY BILL FARRELL
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Former members of the Transit and Housing police departments who had prior state service should have that time counted toward their NYPD 20-year pension requirement, according to a recent court ruling.

Until the July 10 ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Diane Lebedeff, members of those departments who were merged into the NYPD had to complete 20 years of duty with the NYPD before their other time could be credited.

Under a 1992 law, members of the NYPD have a one-year window to transfer prior state service into their pension.

That meant a member of NYPD with three years of service with another agency would be able to retire after 17 years of service with the NYPD. However, a Housing or Transit officer merged into the NYPD would receive 23 years of credit after putting in 20 years with the department.

With the backing of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association, several former members of the Housing and Transit departments sued.

"The members of the two agency services were in the NYCERS [New York City Employees Retirement System] system, not the PPF [Police Pension Fund]," explained PBA spokesman Al O'Leary. "Unlike the PPF, NYCERS doesn't count service credit with other agencies up front. They count it at the end."

The NYPD ruled members of those agencies would have to wait.

However, Lebedeff said that decision violated the 1995 merger agreement that guaranteed that all transferred officers are entitled to full seniority credit for all purposes for service prior to transfer.

An NYPD spokeswoman said the department is reviewing the decision and considering whether to appeal.

The ruling is the second major court win for the former members of the Transit and Housing departments.

Last year, the courts ruled that members of the departments who live outside New York City and never paid city taxes prior to the merger did not have to pay the taxes after the merger.

The ruling - which also affected 200 Emergency Medical Service workers - resulted in the city sending more than $400,000 in refunds last year.

The decision also spurred the Lieutenants Benevolent Association and other unions to file a federal suit to waive the city income tax for all uniform agencies.

Nonresident employees of the uniformed services have had to sign an 1127 form requiring they pay city taxes since 1973.

"There is a disparity, and it's the uniformed workers who have to pay. Teachers who live in the suburbs don't have to pay the tax. Transit workers don't pay it. It's not fair.

"Everyone should be treated equally," said LBA President Tony Garvey when the suit was filed.

Now that the case has moved along, the city has filed a response, and both sides are waiting to set up conference with the judge.