|Fri, Dec 06, 2013 12:02 PM
|Issue of November 27, 2013
August 14, 2013 | 09:26 AM
The Harrison County Council Monday evening approved an upgraded retirement plan for the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept., making it more attractive and competitive for current and prospective officers.
An emotional Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye thanked the seven-member board, which unanimously approved the changes, in front of a large contingent of Harrison County police officers.
"That's something very important you all just did," he said.
The plan will add another six years to the officers' pension plan, to 26 years from 20.
"That puts us sort of in the same ball park as Floyd County," Seelye said.
Floyd County's pension plan reaches 32 years.
Also, officers can now retire at the age of 49 if they have 20 years of service under their belt. It was previously age 55.
Seelye gave the example of an officer who joined the department at age 21 but would have maxed out his retirement at age 41 and then couldn't retire until 55.
The county will contribute $60,000 to help pay for the new plan along with the officers who agreed to up their percentage into the plan from 3 to 4 percent, meaning some of the older officers will actually lose money with the plan (the total cost to the county would have been $69,000 without the officer contribution increase).
"They understand it's important for the younger officers and the future of the department," Seelye said. "It's something we need to do to attract and keep officers."
Council Chair Gary Davis said that shows there's a commitment in the force for the changes.
The plan also offers a drop program where an officer can freeze his or her pension near retirement age.
Seelye said that, without the upgraded plan, the county would most likely lose many of its young officers, especially with the added training many have undergone since Seelye has been in office.
"That raises eyebrows, makes them very attractive to other organizations," he said.
Stan Brown, an actuary with McCready and Keene Inc., visited the council at its previous meeting in July and said now is the best time to increase the plan because the department is relatively young.
The plan was also approved by the sheriff's merit board.
The changes will be effective Jan. 1, 2014, and a part of the annual budget.
In other business Monday, Darrell Voelker, Harrison County's Economic Development director, updated the board about the Areva pharmaceutical plant near Lanesville. He said everything seems to be on track and Areva will inhabit the structure beginning March 15 of next year.
Voelker and Councilman Phil Smith encouraged Harrison Countians to apply for a job at the center by going to the company's website, www.arevapharma.com. The company is not yet hiring.