Dover City Council will mull over a request by retired city employees for a one-time, 4 percent increase in their pensions and a 2 percent annual increase thereafter after its retreat scheduled for March 26.


Dover City Council will mull over a request by retired city employees for a one-time, 4 percent increase in their pensions and a 2 percent annual increase thereafter after its retreat scheduled for March 26.

City Council’s retreat will feature an agenda dominated by financial topics amidst the backdrop of a looming $3.4 million operating deficit for the 2013 fiscal year.

Councilman David Bonar expressed his concern for retirees’ plight during the  March 12 meeting of council’s Legislative, Finance & Administration Committee meeting. But he was frank in his assessment of the situation.

“Timing is everything,” Bonar said.

No cost of living adjustment for the 2013 fiscal year would be the sixth straight year with no adjustment, as pointed out in a Feb. 10, 2012, letter written by the non-council members of the Civilian Pension Board. Civilian Pension Board members Fran Hettinger, Ken Clendaniel and Les Blakeman signed the letter, which was included in several documents submitted to City Council last week.

The Civilian Pension Board had asked for a 4 percent cost of living adjustment for civilian employees who retired on or before June 30, 2007, and an automatic 2 percent COLA increase that would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, for all retirees, not just those who retired on or before June 30, 2007.

Civilian members of the board pointed out that police retirees have received an automatic 2 percent COLA increase each January “for many years.”

Bonar, Councilman William McGlumphy, City Manager Scott Koenig and City Controller Donna Mitchell voted against the measure, while Hettinger, Clendaniel and Blakeman voted for the measure back at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting.

If council were to approve the 4 percent cost of living adjustment, the city would have to budget $98,500 annually to pay for it, with $52,400 coming from the general fund, $40,800 from the electric fund and $5,300 from the water/wastewater fund, Mitchell said.

And city administrators also could not support an automatic, 2 percent increase, she said.
But Blakeman pressed on with the retirees’ case at the March 12 Legislative, Finance & Administration Committee meeting. He suggested that the 4 percent increase would cost approximately $63,000 if implemented in January 2013.

Furthermore, it could be paid for by increasing the city’s electric rate by one-half cent per kilowatt hour, Blakeman said. The city could also go after $300,000 that 32 property owners still owe the city in taxes.

But legislative committee member Daniel Shevock said he could not support the measure because increasing the electric rate would simply bring a plethora of retirees before City Council to complain about how they could not afford their electric bill.

The committee ultimately voted to put the request on hold.