Back on the job

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Editorial: March 21, 2013

ISSUE: Animal Control retiree rehired
OUR VIEW: Decision makes sense on many levels

When Gerald Foley retired last November after 29 years in government, including 25 years as the supervisor of Hardin County Animal Control, a celebration was held in his honor.

The primary concern expressed that day: How could the county possibly find someone who matched Foley's talents, experience and demonstrated skills?

Well, they did it.

After rewriting the job description, advertising for applicants and reviewing 16 candidates, the person to fill the big shoes left by Gerald Foley will be Gerald Foley.

For the other candidates, it's obviously difficult to compete with the man who capably handled the position for a quarter century. He found retirement to be less fulfilling than work and decided to seek his old job. He was scrutinized in the same manner as all other candidates.

For residents seeking out conspiracy in these circumstances, invest your time somewhere else. It's a case of selecting the best qualified individual for the job and that's what we all expect and deserve in county employment matters.

For those shouting about the ills of "double dipping," you may be ill-informed.

The state retirement programs, in this case it's called the County Employees Retirement System, are quite attractive hiring tools. Most in the private sector are banking on retirement based on investment tools linked to the stock market. Few these days can anticipate a traditional pension and its guaranteed benefits.

Once fully vested with time served, most government employees retire at a relatively young age. Some say that continuing to work is a form of volunteering since claiming their retirement pay is nearly the same as being on the job.

Foley's decision to go back to work does mean that he will draw his CRS pension while also receiving a paycheck. But that makes sense since he's "earned" both. He qualified for the former through his years of service and the latter for showing up and doing the work.

He cannot enhance his retirement through returning to work. He cannot contribute toward a second government retirement.

His decision actually helps the retirement system's financial status because, by law, county government must contribute toward the fund for each employee - even though a person in Foley's circumstance is not eligible.

Meanwhile, the county saves money because Foley was hired back at a lesser pay rate. He'll make roughly $41,808, which is a savings of more than $5,000 annually for the county payroll.

The key thing to remember: An exceptionally qualified person is on the job and that's good news as county government transitions to a new and more expansive facility being developed thanks to the generosity of the PAWS Foundation.

Any objections to what transpired here should be focused on the largesse of Kentucky's retirement regulations and the state legislature's reluctance to adjust with the times and the realities of its budget obligations.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.