The Loudoun town of Hamilton, population 600, has three full-time employes, but like most Virginia towns provides no pensions for them.
The Town Council last week voted down a proposal to pay both town and employe contributions under the Virginia State Retirement System (VSRS), which all counties, cities and about 70 large towns belong to. Towns with populations under 5,000--the majority of the state's 189 incorporated towns--are not required to join or provide pensions for their employes. Some are so small, like Hillsboro, they don't have any employes.
Hamilton's three employes, the treasurer and two sewerage plant operators, all are opposed to paying the 5 percent employe share because they say they can't afford it.
"It would elminate almost all of last year's raise, which was 6 percent," said Treasurer Kay Tewell.
Tewell, the two sanitary employes and some council members urged the town to do what neighboring Purcellville and Leesburg do, and what the state itself will begin doing this summer for all state employes: pay the 4.1 percent municipal share and the 5 percent employe share.
But the council killed that proposal. Instead the council retirement committee will consider at its meeting tonight a proposal that employes pay no more than 2 to 3 percent, according to council member David Cooper.
However, such a compromise apparently is not possible under state law, which requires towns to pay all or none of their employes' share, according to Wallace Harris, assistant director of VSRS benefits, programs and services.
The town's three employes run the gamut of opinion:
Norman Carter, the highest paid town employe at just more than $16,000 a year, has been superintendent of public works since the town sewer plant opened 16 years ago. "It comes too late for me," he said. "I'm 60 years old. If they'd come around with this 16 years ago, I'd have been for it. But at 5 percent, I'd be putting in more than I'd get out."
Glenn Milich, Carter's new 26-year-old assistant, makes $12,500. He said: "Basically at 5 percent I can't afford it. I'm young, just married, and it's too much out of my paycheck--my whole raise." The council gave town employes a 6 percent raise last summer.
Tewell said: "I'm caught in the middle, at 44. Employes don't have to join but I need it, even at $50.80 a month, which is what it would cost me."
Council member Cooper said: "We've got to do something for them. We'll decide next month."