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Report: More than 650 retired government workers allowed to 'double dip'

More than 650 retired state and local government

More than 650 retired state and local government workers collecting a pension have also been authorized to earn a public salary before they're 65, according to a report by the Empire Center for Public Policy. Credit: iStock

More than 650 retired state and local government workers collecting a pension have also been authorized to earn a public salary before they're 65, according to a report by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Ten Nassau County employees and eight Suffolk County employees, mostly investigators in the district attorneys' offices, have received waivers from the state to go back to work, or "double dip," according to the database compiled by the nonprofit advocacy group. About three dozen other waivers to the state retirement law were granted for Long Island police departments, towns, and school districts.

"Everybody needs to take a critical look at the system. Is it working?" said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. The Albany-based think tank promotes reforms "based on free-market principles."

Those interviewed, who had received waivers, said their years of experience make them uniquely qualified for their jobs.

Stephen G. McAllister, police commissioner for Floral Park, received a waiver that allows him to collect $181,000 in his job, plus his New York City police pension, which he would not disclose.

He served 27 years in the NYPD, has a master's in criminal justice, and teaches at Molloy College, among other credentials, he said.

"I want to know who else they'd want to have this job," he said. "Basically, they'd force me and my family of five children to leave New York."

"I don't care what people who have no business in this think. The people who hired me think I was the best candidate for the job," he said.

Eric Kopp, a Suffolk deputy county executive, was paid $55,469 for working part time on top of his $84,309 pension in 2013, public records show.

Kopp, 59, has served seven county executives and is chief of staff to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on day-to-day operations for the county.

"I think I bring a value to the county," he said.

He became full-time about four weeks ago making approximately $160,000 a year, but his pension will be frozen, he said. Suffolk County also received a waiver for Kopp to be director of labor relations, but he never served in that job. There were 665 active Section 211 waivers on file with state government agencies.

Without the waiver, retired state and local government employees under 65 cannot collect full public pensions if they also earn more than $30,000 working for a public agency, according to the Empire Center.

Over the past 15 years, more than 7,000 post-retirement earnings waivers, known as Section 211 waivers, were submitted by state and local agencies, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Law by the Empire Center.

The largest waiver allows Dr. Vinay J. Patil to be paid up to $210,000 by upstate Herkimer County for providing mental health services while collecting a $99,204 pension. The waiver list is at www.SeeThroughNY.net.

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