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PROVO POLICE RIP RETIREMENT PROGRAM

Some police officers are at odds with the city administration over retirement contributions.

Bill Jones, Provo Police Mutual Aid Association president, said Tuesday night that fire and police employees are treated unfairly because retirement contributions are not made on their overtime and bonus earnings but are for other city employees.Mayor Joe Jenkins said all employees in the city receive the same percentage of retirement contributions - 20.15 percent annually. The total contribution is portioned into various accounts, depending on the retirement program an employee belongs to.

In 1985, the Legislature passed a law requiring public safety personnel and firefighters to belong to the state-run retirement system.

According to Jenkins, the state retirement program won't accept contributions for overtime or bonus earnings. About seven years ago the state quit accepting such contributions after negotiating a reduction in the number of years firefighters and public safety officers must work - from 25 to 20 - before being eligible for retirement.

The confrontation between the association and the administration was provoked by a proposed city amendment stipulating that retirement contributions are to be calculated only according to an employee's base salary. The amendment was withdrawn Tuesday night and the current ordinance, which allows contributions for overtime and other earnings, remains in force.

The police association agreed the current ordinance should remain unchanged. Now, it wants to be included in its provisions.

But that is a matter the association needs to take up with the state-run retirement system, Jenkins said.

"If the police or anyone else has an issue with this, the issue is with their retirement program - not Provo City," Jenkins said. "If they can get their retirement system to accept overtime dollars on retirement pay, we will do it."

Because other employees can receive retirement contributions on overtime and other earnings, their retirement benefits are better, Jones said.

"We propose that you allocate funds that we receive on overtime and bonus money into a supplementary retirement fund so we can retire with the same equal opportunity that city employees are getting and have been getting since 1985," Jones said.

He said a public safety officer who retires after 20 years with the city and lives to the age of 81 will receive $576,000 in retirement benefits. However, other employees who work for the same period of time and live to the same age will receive $816,000 in benefits.

He said the association wants the city also to make payment retroactively on overtime and bonuses earned the past five years.

"The (Police Mutual Aid Association) is reading the ordinance one way and the mayor's office is reading it another way," said Tom Nelson, a police officer. "We don't have a meeting of the minds here. We need to reach a middle ground or else you'll have a whole bunch of ticked off fire and police employees."

Representatives of all employee groups and the mayor's office will meet to discuss retirement contribution concerns.