Council takes up ‘double dipping’ Monday

The Town Council will address the so-called practice of “double dipping” Monday as repeal and replacement of an ordinance passed last November is on the agenda.

The November ordinance prohibits people who collect town retirement benefits from returning to work for the town. The only exception is for situations in which a former employee is working as a consultant for 90 or fewer days.

Council Democrats seek to narrow the definition of double dipping, applying it to workers who retire with benefits who voluntarily retire with the expectation of resuming their employment, performing the same functions, after they retire.

The replacement ordinance prohibits re-employment if the person’s separation from the town was voluntary, if fewer than 12 months passed since the date of termination, and if the new employment is the same as the prior job.

Town Council Majority Leader Jason Marsh, D-3rd, said the intent is to guard against double dipping, while bringing more clarity to what the ordinance is trying to eliminate. It more tightly defines the meaning of “voluntary” termination, adding explicit examples such as retirement or accepting an early termination or negotiated settlement. The ordinance also clarifies that an employee’s termination is not considered voluntary if the employee’s position is eliminated or defunded, or if the employee reaches a mandatory retirement age. It also retains the 90-day exception, and it offers an alternative to prospective repeat employees: the terms wouldn’t apply if the prospective employee accepts lower compensation reflecting the amount he or she receives in retirement benefits.

“The absolute prohibition contained in the former ordinance affected many more people than we believe was the underlying intent,” Marsh said. “We want to eliminate double dipping, without constraining the ability of retired employees to serve the town again in appropriate situations.  These individuals have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and can continue to be a valuable resource to our town.”