May 21, 2012 4:52 pm ET
Realized savings of $814,000, but police chef’s DROP could exceed $1 million in cash.
According to an article published in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore County school officials are cutting leader positions among teachers to save $814,000.
The question I have is this necessary and could it have been avoided?
According to the Sun’s article, this cost-cutting measure would impact teachers in a variety of ways.
“The decision will strip the title and pay from some teachers who act as department chairs and perform certain roles, including helping principals evaluate teachers, making sure books and supplies are evenly distributed and deciding how curriculum will be taught,” the article states.
As a blogger I was intrigued by this move since prior to this article I recently filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request and forwarded it to the county’s budget director, Mr. Keith Dorsey.
I was seeking information to confirm information from a source that the county police chief’s DROP money could exceed $1 million in cash, before his first pension check. The impetus for that perk (or windfall if you prefer) lies in a legislative bill 47-07 introduced at the request by then-County Executive Jim Smith which was then written by then-Council Chairman Sam Moxley.
DROP, which stands for Deferred Retirement Option Program and was covered by was established by the county in July of 2001 and took effect in July of 2004.
Mr. Dorsey replied promptly to my request; however he was not clarifying the information I was seeking. I was looking for the $$ signs and what I received was this quote from his reply: “It is impossible to know now whether the Chief would make the decision to take the DROP at this time.”
This second part of the quote spurred me into action: “It is not possible to estimate a DROP benefit at this time as the calculation is done at the time of retirement and is based on too may variable factors including the DROP period chosen by the retiree.”
Now this statement is both true and false. The decision to take a DROP without the applied number of years, which range from a one-year DROP to a five-year one, could not be calculated exactly without the number of years; however there is a way to calculate the maximum $$ based on a five-year choice.
Based on the number of years of service of Chief Jim Johnson and his current pay scale, a figure can be calculated.
The formula that is applied to that amount of money is determined by a publication by the FOP (Fraternal Order Of Police) in 2001 titled – DROP Information and Worksheet.
Rather than try and apply this complicated formula myself, I contacted an expert on this matter and provide them with the necessary numbers to figure out not only the maximum amount of a five-year DROP but also the amount of the pension.
That expert who provided the information based on the condition of anonymity (obviously) gave me the calculations or $$ if you will. Other sources familiar with the DROP also verified this figure.
The amount of $$ based on a five-year DROP would be—hold on to your hats—$1.3 million. This is the amount of cash Johnson would receive before the first pension check is cashed. The pension would be in the range of $191,000 to $195,000 a year, plus or minus a few thousand.
Unfortunately these $$ are chiseled in legislation submitted at Smith’s request allowing for the chief of police to partake in the DROP program. Why would Smith care? It wasn’t his money.
It should also be noted that prior to Smith’s requesting this legislation the county police chief was not eligible for the DROP program.
As for the teachers and students, those $$ speak for them also but not in the A-plus category.
As for Jim Smith, he gets a F.