Much has been written about those 12 employees of the Industrial Development Agency who were deemed ineligible to participate in the NYS Retirement System because they were in fact working for local development corporations. Special legislation is awaiting the Governor's signature that validates their participation in the system to date but halts the practice in the future.
In all fairness, the employees had been hired under the premise they were in the system and had been receiving annual statements from the system for years. For them, there was no reason to believe things were different than what they were told was the case. Two of the twelve effectively worked for the Watertown Trust, an agency created with funds from a grant initially loaned to NY Air Brake and turned into a revolving loan fund.
However, putting the personal aspect aside, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has been both right and wrong on these type of issues..Right in that contrived arrangements to access the generous system needs to be restricted. Mr. DiNapoli is wrong in thinking this isolated situation with its unique circumstances represents saving a system that is fiscally unsound to begin with.
The Comptroller has been among those blocking a conversion to a more sustainable defined contribution system. The reason there is a scramble to get a state pension is that the system's benefits bear no resemblance to what is put in it.
Organizations like the Watertown Trust will revert to its previous practice of actually employing its employees and end the practice of giving employees a boss on paper different from the Board the employees should answer to.
The Trust is the only entity directly targeted to development issues in the City and will have to play a central role in matters like Mercy ownership.
This issue and the angst it has generated has been an expensive diversion that hopefully will end soon.
Watertown Daily Times | Watertown Trust schedules special meeting on pension issue