The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in a response to the outcry over the $157,000 salary package that was offered last year to School Superintendent William J. Burkholder, has moved to curb the practice of allowing workers to earn both pensions and salaries from the county government.
But some supervisors are grumbling that the new policy isn't tough enough. "It's not a compromise, it's a rip-off," said Supervisor Audrey Moore, a Democrat. She favored a ban on all forms of "double-dipping."
Others said the new policy, which is effective immediately, would end abuses of the county retirement policies. "The ability of the top dogs to manipulate the system is now gone," said Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican who supported the new policy. "This stops your high-level guys from quitting early, and then taking new jobs and raking it in."
Last fall, school officials offered Burkholder the large pension and salary to keep him from retiring, but disclosure of the size of the offer prompted public protests and triggered a review of county policies toward double-dipping. Burkholder announced that he would retire June 30 rather than accept the package.
On Monday, the county board voted 5 to 4 to place an income ceiling of $78,355 in combined pension and salary on county employes who retire from one county agency and then go to work for another.
Some supervisors favored more sweeping limits on employes receiving both county pensions and salaries. "There just is no fairness" in the new policy, said Board Vice Chairman Martha V. Pennino, a Democrat who opposed the new plan. "People have to make up their mind: either they are a retiree or an employe of the county -- not both."
The new policy prohibits retired county workers from taking new jobs covered by the same retirement system that is paying them a pension. The county has three pension plans and some workers said the new policy will favor police officers and firefighters, who are eligible to retire after 20 years.
Under the old policy, there was no cap on income for double-dippers, and retired employes could return to work for any county agency except the one that had employed them previously. There are now 26 Fairfax workers drawing both salary and pension from the county, and most are paid a total of about $35,000 a year, county officials said.
Supervisors who voted for the new plan called it a practical compromise that would curtail some double-dipping. Supervisors Moore, Pennino, James M. Scott, and T. Farrell Egge, who opposed the plan and backed a more stringent policy or an outright ban on all forms of the practice, said the new policy will have little effect.
Fairfax is one of the only jurisdictions in the metropolitan area that allows county retirees receiving pensions to return to new, full-time county jobs paying salaries.
Excluding school employes, who are covered separately, Fairfax has three retirement plans: one for firefighters, sheriff's deputies and animal wardens; one for police officers, and one for civilian employes. The civilian plan is by far the largest, covering about 5,400 workers.
Under the new policy, retiring fire and police employes will be able to return to the county as civilian employes. However, civilian employes who want to go back to work for the county would have to vie for the smaller number of jobs with fire and police departments.