Wolfe a victim of outdated system
June 29, 2001
Meridian Public Works Director Benny Wolfe served his city well for years almost too numerous to count. Well, actually, he did count and found that working more years under an old retirement system will not give him the access he needs to certain health care benefits.
He has reached the limit of his retirement plan, and no matter how many more years he worked for the city, his retirement benefits would not grow commensurately.
And therein lies a source of irritation for some people in city government who are getting to the age where things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid assume more importance.
Wolfe, 52, and others like him hired under the old Municipal Retirement Plan, did not contribute to Social Security. They will not qualify for Social Security-related benefits. They are also prohibited by state law from retiring under the old system and then being rehired to the same job and be covered by the current retirement system.
They can, however, take a similar job in another city, collect income from the old retirement fund and start over under a new plan as they draw a new salary. Wolfe will take a position in Pascagoula. While the combination of retirement benefits and a new salary may not double the $66,000 a year he was paid in Meridian, he stands to face his "second" retirement from a stronger financial position.
Wolfe reportedly tried to get special dispensation from the state to stay in his Meridian job, but to no avail. It's the system, he was told.
This system seems a little archaic. It contributes to the loss of skilled, experienced personnel people who obviously are still competent to do the work. For all practical purposes, the only difference it makes in Wolfe's case is that he's having to take his talents to Pascagoula.
Perhaps this is a topic for consideration by the 2002 session of the Mississippi Legislature.