Hiring Wade might violate city rules Budget director says move would be a case of double-dipping

Exception required

Ex-coach's pension is at least $35,920

new job pays $47,000

August 15, 1996|By Marilyn McCraven | Marilyn McCraven,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Robert Guy Matthews contributed to this article.

Hiring former Dunbar and Maryland coach Bob Wade as a city school administrator -- just weeks after he accepted an enhanced pension from another city job -- would violate rules city officials recently adopted to prevent such apparent double-dipping, a top city official said yesterday.

Wade has left his position as superintendent of recreation in the Department of Recreation and Parks with an annual pension estimated to be at least $35,920, based on incomplete information supplied by the city. He is in line to become director of interscholastic sports for the city schools, a position that would pay $47,000.

Guidelines governing the 900 city employees who left their jobs as of July 31 under a retirement incentive plan specify that they may be rehired at only 50 percent of their old salaries and can stay for a maximum of 90 days.

To hire Wade, "The Board of Estimates would have to make an exception to the guidelines that they agreed to," said Edward Gallagher, city budget director and author of the rules.

But Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman, said a city panel set up to review the temporary rehiring of city employees would have to determine if Wade's hiring would be subject to the Board of Estimates' guidelines. Gallagher is a member of that panel.

"Those guidelines were set up to prevent a city employee from retiring from a department and returning to that same department in the same position, circumventing the reasons for the" retirement incentive plan, Coleman said. "Bob Wade wouldn't be doing that."

However, the written guidelines don't say that they apply only to employees returning to their old departments.

Schmoke controls three votes on the five-member Board of Estimates, which also has as members City Comptroller Joan Pratt and City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III. Bell and Pratt could not be reached for comment.

On Monday, Schmoke said he had cut Wade's proposed pay and benefit package for the schools' job after reading in The Sun that Wade would be collecting a city pension and getting a new city job paying between $65,000 and $68,000, plus benefits. His previous job paid $68,400.

Because he objected to the appearance of "double-dipping," Schmoke said he told schools Superintendent Walter G. Amprey to hire Wade as interim director of interscholastic sports on a contractual basis for $47,000 with no benefits.

Schmoke said Wade's hiring would be subject to the approval of the school board and the Board of Estimates, which must approve all city contracts.

Coleman said Schmoke is waiting for Amprey to confirm the new contractual arrangement with Wade. Neither Amprey nor Wade could be reached for comment.

Amprey had told the mayor he needed to create a position to handle interscholastic sports because "the job wasn't getting done," and other school systems had one person specifically for that role, Schmoke said.

That job now is handled by Don Williams, the school system's director of physical education and interscholastic sports.

Amprey said interscholastic sports, which involves scheduling games, working with coaches, outfitting teams and other matters, has become a full-time job.

Amprey said last week he expected the school board would informally approve Wade for the interim position before school begins Sept. 4. At its Sept. 6 meeting, the board would take a formal vote, Amprey said.

Funded by a surplus in the city's pension system, the retirement incentive program is designed to cut the city's 25,000-person work force without widespread layoffs.

It makes leaving more attractive by crediting workers with additional service, including a 5 percent payment bonus to those who opted to leave by last month.

Under the program, a worker making $25,000 with 20 years of service would get $9,246 a year, an increase of about $1,700 over regular retirement benefits.

Wade apparently will have a pension of at least $35,920 a year, according to general city guidelines for the retirement incentive program. However, city officials would not disclose Wade's pension nor release details about how his pension is calculated.

Yesterday, the Board of Estimates extended to 10 city employees limited contracts that allow them to continue working until replacements are found. The workers will receive their full retirement benefits immediately.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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