Council to weigh ban on voting by phone

April 04, 1994

The county's pension oversight commission won't be able to vote by phone anymore under a bill before the county council.

The measure, sponsored by Councilman David G. Boschert, is designed to avoid any more votes like the 4-1 decision to approve changes in the appointed and elected officials retirement plan that are blamed for leaving it $14 million short of the money it needs.

The commission endorsed those changes -- which included increasing appointed officials' pensions by about 25 percent, lowering the retirement age from 60 to 50 and establishing a minimum annual pension of $4,800 -- in May 1989. The council later adopted them.

Part of the problem with the fund also has been caused by a state law that allows state employees who transfer to county government to bring their years of service into the county's pension plan, without bringing any assets.

The pension commission was forced to vote by phone on the 1989 bill because it did not have enough time to convene a meeting.

The proposed legislation would permit the commission to vote on an issue only at a meeting at which a quorum of five of its nine members is present.

The troubled pension fund has since been fixed through several bills, but the county is still liable for the $14 million. The council is considering two bills -- one authored by Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, and the other by Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold -- that would roll back some pension benefits that were granted to officials in the 1989 bill.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

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