Elkton Town Hall, July 14, 2010 – Municipal employees in public works and administration are asking the town to provide them with a defined benefits retirement plan, similar to one Elkton recently granted to the police department’s collective bargaining unit. That subject was one of the matters discussed at the workshop, while 17 people looked on from the audience section of the meeting room, an area that is normally empty.
These non-emergency workers have a defined contribution plan while the collective bargaining unit has defined benefits. Under the defined benefits arrangement, the employees’ contribution is fixed and the town bears whatever added expenses is required to give workers a pre-determined fixed level of retirement income. Town administrator Lewis George tried to outline the differences between these types of retirement programs. “They’ll [non-police employees] have a potential meager income to support them the rest of their lives,” whereas the police may retire after 25-years at 50% of their regular income, he advised. To capitalize the police account, the officers pay 8% of their regular salary into it, and the town will pay anywhere from 3% to 25% depending on what the actuarial studies say needs to be contributed.
As the mayor and commissioners mulled over the implications of this request, they talked about some options. That included the possibility of getting back into the Maryland State Employee Pension Plan or establishing their own fund. Someone on the board remarked that they’d been told the Maryland plan was too expensive. Talking to the employees in the room, another official added, “If I were you, I’d want that too.”
Recognizing that this is a complicated subject with potential for substantial costs, the town board agreed to investigate the subject in more detail and follow-up with the staff as they gain more insight about the subject.