Some politicians in Washington, D.C., have been cranky lately and that mood also infected the Oct. 14 Batesville City Council meeting as members considered a resolution to enlarge the city’s contribution to the Indiana Public Retirement System’s Public Employees’ Retirement Fund to include the mayor.
Mayor Rick Fledderman said he assumed he already had the PERF benefit because all other full-time city employees do. When he recently met with a retirement adviser, they called PERF officials and discovered he was not covered. “This was a shock ... Shame on me for not looking at my paycheck.” The city of Batesville and employees make contributions to the fund.
Clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel said, “Because the mayor’s position dating back to 2004 was considered a full-time position … we discussed making this retroactive going back to 2004.” The state rule is an employee must work 1,000 hours annually to be eligible.
About 100 out of 120 Indiana mayors participate in PERF, according to Weigel. “The time frame for submitting this is no later than Nov. 1. These funds (a little over $20,000 for the past decade) would be coming from the Rainy Day Fund.” If council members approved the resolution, the benefit would continue for future mayors, he said.
Reaction from some present at the meeting was mostly negative. Attendee Mike Coleman read a letter from former utilities manager Mike Vonderheide, who was out of town. It said, in part, “Under no circumstances should the council approve any backdating of the mayor’s retirement benefit. If the council wishes to start covering that position from now going forward, that is within their authority, but I would not recommend that for this position.”
On the other hand, councilman Darrick Cox, who was absent, wrote, “I feel that it’s common sense to pass this resolution.”
Coleman had a few of his own thoughts. “When did the (mayor’s) position become full time?” he questioned. Fledderman said since his first term, which began in 2004. Coleman continued, “Do you have a time card that you punch?” The answer was no, but Weigel pointed out the mayor has city health insurance and must be full time to do so.