Will Council save DROP?

Posted: September 15, 2011

CITY COUNCIL is expected today to override Mayor Nutter's veto of a bill that would preserve the controversial DROP program, while reducing its cost.

"I expect there will be a vote [today], and I expect there will be an override," said Councilwoman Marian Tasco.

Nutter has pushed Council to end the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, arguing that the city cannot afford the perk, estimated to have cost $100 million since 1999. But Council - which has seven members who are current or past DROP enrollees - chose to modify DROP in the spring.

Tasco said the amended DROP will provide savings.

"If we don't pass it, we keep what we already have," said Tasco, who is set to "retire" for a day and collect a $478,057 DROP payment before returning in 2012 for another term - a practice that has drawn public criticism.

Council's bill passed, 14-3, so it should have the 12 votes needed for a veto override. The legislation would delay entry into DROP for nonuniformed workers and would lower the earned interest rate for future participants. Council's consultant predicted the changes would carry a one-time cost of $15 million to $20 million.

Nutter said he still wanted to abolish DROP, pledging that "as long as there is a DROP program, I am going to work tirelessly to end that program and stop the additional cost that comes with it."

DROP allows city workers to set a retirement date up to four years in the future, at which point their pension benefit is frozen and they start accruing payments in an interest-bearing account while on the payroll. When the employees retire, they collect a lump sum and start receiving pension payments.

On another issue, it wasn't clear if Councilman Bill Greenlee had the votes to override a veto of legislation that would require employers to provide paid sick leave. Greenlee said yesterday that he was continuing to seek support.

- Staff writer Jan Ransom

contributed to this report.

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