Pension Padding Investigation Over

Jul 16, 2012

New York State has quietly dropped its probe into the use of overtime to pad the pensions of public employees ... Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

When he was running for Governor in 2010, Andrew Cuomo's campaign was buzzing about the problem of "pension padding". Cuomo launched an investigation into pension padding at 64 public entities while he was Attorney General, but no final report was ever issued.

Officials with the Cuomo administration have told the media that "pension abuses were addressed in recent state legislation," specifically, the new pension reform law enacted in March.

Analysts argue the law doesn’t stop pension padding --- Former Schenectady Fire Chief Robert Farstad is appealing his pension estimate with the State of New York after the City Council failed to approve a deal where 117-thousand dollars in accumulated sick and vacation time would have been converted into "overtime" that would have resulted in doubling his pension so he would be getting paid more in retirement than he made during his tenure as chief.

 In Dutchess County, the cost of pensions for all taxing entities comes in at approx.$61 million next year.  Some observers say the sour economy has impacted pension funds, which have been falling short of earning projected returns - to the point where they have played a role in some California cities declaring bankruptcy -  closer to home, New York City is nearing the point where it will be paying pensions to more retired police officers than it is paying salaries to officers on active duty.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a preliminary report in July 2010 that said the pension investigation was continuing after finding that the practice was “costing taxpayers hundreds of millions  of dollars.” Governor Cuomo's website set up to report the progress of the pension probe is no longer operational. Calls for comment to Governor Cuomo's office were not returned in time for broadcast.