PENSION PLUS PAY = Big bucks for Sullivan if elected supervisor

BY JOEL GROSSBARTH

Last week, Michael Sullivan, the suspended Clarkstown Police Chief, announced his candidacy for supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown. If elected to the position by voters in November, Chief Sullivan stands to score a huge payday.

Chief Sullivan currently earns a salary of $278,161 per year, which he still receives while the pending disciplinary charges are litigated. Regardless of the outcome of the disciplinary hearings against Chief Sullivan, he will be entitled to collect his pension from the State of New York since there are no criminal charges levied against him.

The supervisor position in Clarkstown currently pays an annual salary of $170,309 per year. Even conservatively estimating a fifty percent pension, Chief Sullivan stands to make over $300,000 per year if elected supervisor, not including benefits and vacation.

Under New York State Retirement and Social Services Law, any retired person may continue as retired and, without loss, suspension or diminution of his or her retirement allowance, earn an amount in a position in public service.

Recently, this section was litigated in a strange manner. Rockland County Supreme Court Judge Gerald Loehr brought a lawsuit challenging a ruling by the Chief Judge of New York State that prescribed that a judge would not be allowed to sit past his/her 70thbirthday if they continued to receive a previous pension while collecting their salary as a supreme court judge.

Loehr claimed that the policy violated the provisions of the law. Loehr previously served a Mayor of Yonkers and had accrued enough time in the pension system to qualify for retirement benefits. An appellate court agreed with Loehr and held the policy unlawful. Now, those elected officials who previously accrued enough time in the pension system will be able to collect both their pension and the salary for the position.

It is important to stress that there is nothing improper about Sullivan collecting both a pension and a salary if he is elected. It will be up to the voters of Clarkstown to determine the outcome of the election and what is too much money for their elected politicians.