OCEAN CITY – In an effort to make pension plans within the town’s public safety sector uniform, the recent enhancements of the Public Safety Pension Plan will now be extended to include 21 employees who did not originally receive the benefit improvements.
At the City Council meeting on Monday, Emergency Services Director Joseph Theobald and City Manager Dennis Dare came before the Mayor and Council to request the inclusion of 21 additional employees in the Public Safety pension plan enhancements.
The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) contract, which became effective as of July 1, currently shows an increase in the pension benefits for Firefighters/EMTs, Emergency Management, and non-managerial employees of the Office of the Fire Marshall. The benefits call for an increased employee contribution of 8 percent, with 8 1/2 percent for employees with more than 15 years of service. The increased contribution was negotiated in order to have the base pay percentage raised from 50 to 60 percent.
The benefit changes were also extended to the police command staff and police officers under the Fraternal Order of Police contract.
As it stands, 21 individuals in the Public Safety Pension Plan have the former pension benefits that include a 50 percent base pay with an employee contribution of 7 percent.
“To make it uniform within public safety, and to have uniform benefits, we’re asking for your consideration of extending that to these number of personnel,” Dare said.
According to Dare, the resulting enhancement will be paid for by the increased contribution percentage that each individual pays over 25 years. There will, however, be a $17,000 annual cost as a result of people who already have years of service that would be grandfathered into the plan.
Theobald informed the council he had spoken to the 21 employees and all agree with the proposed enhancements to their pensions. “I do believe they deserve it and I would maintain that it is the right thing to do,” he said.
Councilman Jay Hancock agreed including the employees was proper.
“I think it’s important that all the employees within the public safety pension plan all have a similar plan,” he said.
Councilwoman Nancy Howard supported the move, saying, “Ocean City treats its employees very well and this is the right step to take.”
The council voted unanimously to extend the plan enhancements to the 21 individuals.