Massive pensions, double-dipping uncovered by the Empire Center

At least four New York local government retirees appear to have received permission from state or New York City officials to each take home a combined $300,000 in pay and pensions as of January 1, 2018, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s government transparency website.

The waivers, allowed under Section 211 of the state Retirement and Social Security law, are among 865 waivers letting public employees under age 65 collect a pension and a public paycheck simultaneously as of January 1. The four individuals cleared to double-dip for more than $300,000 and their maximum combined annual pay and pension benefit were:

  • Yonkers Fire Commissioner Robert Sweeney ($394,873)
  • Lloyd Harbor Police Captain Thomas C. Krumpter ($322,396)
  • New York City attorney Anita Laremont ($311,960)
  • Herkimer County psychiatrist Vinay J. Patil ($309,600)

“State law says these waivers are a last resort for public employers that can’t hire a qualified applicant who won’t double dip, but taxpayers have good cause to be concerned the process isn’t working as intended,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center.

The Empire Center’s one-of-a-kind database of Section 211 waivers lets taxpayers search through more than 8,000 applications, which include details such as the employee’s name, their authorized pay, and the employer seeking the waiver.

Among the waivers in effect on January 1:

  • 350 were approved for New York City, with 158 going to District Attorney offices;
  • 220 were approved for local governments outside New York City, with the most going to Nassau County (27), Suffolk County (17) and Orange County (14);
  • 183 were approved for New York State agencies, including 101 at the Law Department and 25 at SUNY; and
  • 96 were for school districts outside New York City.

Nearly 20 percent of active waivers (172) have been granted to government employers for select positions continually since 2008, suggesting individuals are using what’s meant to be a temporary arrangement on a permanent basis. These include 45 in District Attorney offices, 31 in the state Law Department, and 20 in Nassau County government. Of those, 133 were investigative positions. Public employers are required by law to conduct “extensive recruitment efforts” before resorting to hiring under a 211 waiver application.

The actual number of double-dippers collecting over $300,000 a year may be considerably higher. Waivers are only required if the retiree hasn’t yet reached age 65 and authorizing entities do not report data uniformly. Most importantly, the New York City Police Pension Fund (PPF) refuses to disclose the names of people receiving pensions, and 56 waivers authorizing additional earnings over $100,000 went to PPF retirees. The Empire Center has since 2009 been working to obtain the list of PPF retirees and pension amounts and remains involved in state-level litigation to make the data publicly available.

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