Taxpayers in Philadelphia are stuck with hefty bills because of sky-high pension benefits for people who retire for a weekend, then come right back to work. City Councilwoman Marian Tasco retired Friday, collected almost a half a million dollars in pension benefits and returns to work today, when she will be sworn in to serve a seventh term. She will be joined by Ronald Donatucci, who will collect $366,797 when he returns to work after a week-long retirement and they both join colleagues who have previously done the same thing.
The city offers a “Deferred Retirement Option Plan” that allows workers to collect a salary AND build up pension money during the last four years of their employment. Touted as revenue-neutral when it originally passed, Philly’s DROP program has cost the city a quarter of a billion dollars in just 10 years. Mayor Nutter has vowed to “work tirelessly” to abolish the program but right now, just shy of 400 people have signed up for it, declaring they are within their last 4 years of work.
This fall, the Philadelphia city council voted to override the mayor’s veto of a bill that preserves the program – a bill sponsored by none other than Marian Tasco. The city council has also raised taxes two years in a row and now the best solution they appear to have come up with is simply stall for time while more and more people move through the system, collect 6-figure payouts and go right back to work.
Citizens are starting to catch on. Four retiring council members are DROP participants while one incumbent lost his re-election bid in part because of his participation in this giant albatross of a program. What were they thinking?!