New Canaan's Walker will have pension recalculated
Following an official recalculation of his pension benefits, former First Selectman Jeb Walker's payments may be altered, and he may be required to return funds in excess of what he was entitled to receive, according to a news release issued by First Selectman Rob Mallozzi at the conclusion of the Aug. 21 Board of Selectmen meeting.
"I asked the Finance Department to engage our actuary firm, Hooker and Holcombe Inc., to recalculate Mr. Walker's pension benefits," the release said, adding, "The Town of New Canaan is to end all payments in excess of the documented vesting requirements outlined in our pension plan and in the documents found in Mr. Walker's file."
Mallozzi may not stop at just a recalculation of benefits, stating that he will look into repayments of the benefits above those to which Walker was entitled.
"The Town is addressing, and will continue to address, the mechanism for re-payment of excess benefits in consultation with legal counsel."
This recalculation follows a legal opinion delivered by Town Legal Counsel Chris Jarboe that stated that the July 18 Town Council meeting that approved the amendments to the town pension plan was null and void due to the lack of a presentation at the meeting by an actuary on the costs of such amendments.
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When asked about the possibility of criminal charges, Mallozzi deferred to the potential opinion of the official probe he wants to conduct to examine the actions and processes of the previous administration.
"That's part of the whole review process. If a law firm comes in here and determines certain things, we'll take it to the next level. But that's not something I'm prepared to answer (myself)," he said.
Mallozzi is currently researching firms to conduct the outside inspection, and hopes to have his recommendation ready by September. Mallozzi was uncertain whether this recalculation by Hooker and Holcombe would cost anything or was within the town's agreement with the firm, but said that if there is an extra cost, it would be nominal.
Some have wondered why an elected official's pension vests after only five years, complaining that it is too short an amount of service to receive lifelong benefits. Compared to area towns, New Canaan is not out of the mainstream with its five-year vesting period. Both Darien and Weston vest after five years. Ridgefield vests immediately (although the shortest term limit is four years) and pays 9 percent of the employee's salary per year. New Canaan pays 2 percent.
The release noted that the town will pay Walker what the actuary firm decides the pension is worth.
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