HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council held a special called meeting Friday morning to set a policy regulating employment for retired employees.
The new policy does not allow employees who retire from the city or other organizations under the state's Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) to continue employment, or return for employment, with the City of Hattiesburg.
The vote, which passed 4-0, does allow the council to re-hire an employee on a temporary basis with the period of employment established. The policy states the purpose of that is to "limit the city's responsibility for contributions to PERS for the retiree."
"One of my concerns," Ward 5 Councilman Henry Naylor said, "is to have people to retire and just sitting back actually, in a sense, waiting on 90 days to come back (for city employment)."
The city council voted, and approved, to remove three positions that fell under this description last month. Those positions included assistant chief financial officer Connie Everett, accountant Tina Perkins and facility maintenance repairman Anthony Spam. Councilman Naylor said Spam's position had since been approved to stay on for a temporary period under necessary circumstances.
"In some cases [retirees are] coming back and actually making more than some of our city employees," Naylor said. "I think that's a legitimate concern people should have... I think this will address that and prevent it from taking place."
The positions, which the council put in a letter to Mayor Johnny DuPree, totaled nearly $70,000. That money should be sent to the General Fund by request of the council. The letter, dated September 22, said the city paid 15.75 percent of those employees' salaries into PERS and .766 percent for workers' compensation. It also said the city matched their Medicare at 1.450 percent and their FICA (social security) at 6.2 percent, all for a total of 24.166 percent estimated at one-fourth of their salaries.
"To give full benefits to someone when they are already receiving retirement from PERS burdens the taxpayers," Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said.
The city's new policy will not apply to PERS retired employees who decide to come out of retirement and return full time.
Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado was not present for Friday's vote regarding the retiree employment policy.