lucas county commissioner

HI all,
A couple of questions concerning the lucas county commissioners.
1) How much do they get paid?
2) Do they receive a pension for serving in that position? If they receive a pension can they receive it after only one term and how much do they actually receive? Thanks!

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1) Commissioner salaries are set by state law and depend upon the size of the county in terms of population (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/325.10). The salary for Lucas County commissioners in 2009 was just over $87,000. I couldn't find a link for 2011, but it won't be too much different.

2) Commissioners, as public employees, participate in the state PERS system - they do not participate in Social Security. They are subject to the same terms as every other public employee in the state in that they must be vested (I believe that requires 10 years of service) in order to be eligible for benefits upon reaching retirement age. A person can serve for 10 years early in their life and keep their account in the PERS system and then receive that pension when they reach 65 (or they are declared disabled).

Like other employees, I believe they are eligible for benefits if they reach 65 while in public service. Also, there used to be (but I don't know if it's still in place) a provision that any employee reaching 30 years of service could retire with full benefits regardless of age.

Amount of payout depends. The general rule I was always told was that it was roughly 80% of the average of the three highest years of earning. So a person who served a 4-year term as a commissioner and then served 6 years as a township trustee would have the three highest years totaled (3 of the BCC years) and then divided by 3. They would then be eligible for 80% of that average amount. Each individual gets a yearly statement from PERS (like SS sends out) detailing their eligibility, potential pension, etc...

These terms are still under debate for changes in Columbus, but currently have remained unchanged.

Additionally, county commissioners have an association that offers the equivalent to a private sector 401(k). This is a pre-tax deduction from their paychecks with no matching funds provided by anyone or any entity. It works just like any other 401(k) in terms of eligibility, rollover to another employer, etc...

Maggie, Maybe I'm confused on your wording on PERS.

Mainly because for 2 years I was PERS eligible employee and I contributed. However just three months ago I rolled my PERS over into my ROTH IRA and I didn't work 10 years for the state. There may be a loophole but my situation doesn't fit the 10 years you cited.

MikeyA

Just because you can roll over your accumulated PERS contributions doesn't mean you're vested... Vested means you're qualified to receive the full benefits of the system you're participating in.

I believe you're still required to serve a set number of years (it was 10) to be fully eligible to receive all benefits from the PERS system. But anyone can roll over their amounts regardless of being fully vested in the system.

:)

Thanks for the clarification Maggie.

When I was a PERS employee I was 20 and retirement planning was far from my mind. I still made wise financial decisions and am far ahead of most of my peers.

Unfortunately I couldn't roll my PERS into my Federal Thrift Savings Plan, the best retirement account I've seen yet, so that's why I took the tax hit and rolled it into my TSP. The good thing was I spent a large portion of the year in a "tax-free" zone so only about 1/4 of my earnings are taxable anyway so it was a good time to do it.

It's a shame that most people don't take the time to search their retirement plans and just expect a pension alone to sustain them. It's one area we really fail our kids.

I recently made my youngest Marines take a financial class. When they learned if they invested $3,000 for six years(beginning at age 20) into a stock market based IRA (assumes 10% growth which is normal for the stock market) they would retire at 65 with 1.2 million dollars. That alone got them all to sign up for the Federal TSP. That tells me the younger generation isn't dumb, we've just failed to teach and encourage them.

MikeyA

Wow, I was in the wrong line of work all my life.

"We're all riding on the Hindenburg, no sense fighting over the window seats"-Richard Jenni

87k for commissioners?! The state/nation is broke, figuratively and literally. But, when you pay someone twice what they're worth...hey, it's no different from my union friends who are also paid double their worth. $34/hour for HVAC?!?!...GTFO!!!

Maggie,

I believe that the pension is also calculated on the number of years served.

Something like 2.1% per year for the first 30, 2.5% for anything over 30.

So, if you have 30 years in, you get 63% of your highest 3-years/3 up to 100% but no more.

e.g., someone with 38 years served would get 83% of their highest years divided by 3...

Hooda Thunkit

...for the clarification. You're certainly more familiar with the details than I am. :)

Thanks for the info Maggie:) The reason I was asking was because some years back a fellow worker of mine was telling me about a friend of his running for one of those township trustee positions in one of the small outlying towns. (I think it was woodmore or elmore ). I asked him why would someone want to do that because I figured the pay couldn't be that good. He told me people do it because of the good pension. I assume that is why people try to bounce from one elected position to another so they get their Ten years in.

- clearly the pension is the better part of the elected office when it comes to compensation, but most elected officials also receive the same medical coverage as their employees - and that's not bad either.

When it comes to pay, though, the amount seems large if you think of it in terms of a 40-hour/week job (or even less which is what some elected officials do). But I can tell you that, during my time in office, I rarely had a week where I worked less than 50 hours. I counted events and activities I "had" to attend because of being in an elected position in additional to a regular 8-5 workday. I don't think I ever had a weekend that didn't include multiple functions. During my first two years in the Clerk's office I averaged 65+ hours per week, which included an average 11-hour work day + functions/events. When you take all that into consideration, the actual hourly rate isn't that good.

However, not all elected officials treat their positions as full-time jobs, though many do (In Lucas County, the judges, prosecutor, county clerk of court, commissioners and auditor have traditionally worked a regular M-F 8:30-4:30 work day).

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