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Double dipping: Towns are abusing the system

January 18. 2018 10:11PM

If a retired policeman or firefighter wanted to pick up some part-time hours, that shouldn’t be a problem.

But when New Hampshire towns systematically abuse a loophole to shortchange the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS), the Legislature needs to step in.

Most New Hampshire municipalities are members of the NHRS. When local employees retire, they can start collecting their pensions. But they can’t collect if they work more than 32 hours per week for another NHRS member. Some towns have gotten around this by hiring employees part time, including police and fire chiefs.

The town doesn’t have to make contributions to NHRS, and the employee can collect a pay check and a pension check.

On Thursday, the state Senate approved HB 561, which would prevent NHRS retirees from working more than 1,300 hours (25 hours per week) in another member town.

Sen. John Reagan opposed HB 561, arguing in a Wednesday column that retirees working part time help towns avoid overtime expenses. He’s right.

But HB 561 would not prevent retirees from picking up a few shifts. It would prevent towns from abusing the system, at the expense of the NHRS’s long-term stability.

After review by the Senate Finance Committee, we would encourage the House to send this double-dipping fix to Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk.

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