2 more recipients of illegal pensions are named Former top officials must repay part of big payouts

April 10, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A former Anne Arundel County finance officer and a one-time parks director are among the four retired county officials being forced to return about $40,000 to the county because their pensions were so large they violated federal limits on benefits for public employees.

The administration of County Executive John G. Gary has been fighting with top political appointees under previous administrations over unusually generous pensions offered to top county officials from 1989 to 1993.

The deals boosted pensions by 25 percent, reduced the retirement age from 60 to 50 and threw the future financial obligations of the pension plan millions of dollars into the red.

A report by County Auditor Teresa Sutherland released this week revealed that as many as two-thirds of the 88 former employees enrolled in the pension system might have been getting incorrect pension checks -- with most getting too much money.

The same report said that four former county employees were ZTC receiving pensions so large they may have violated IRS rules limiting pension pay to $90,000 for public employees who retire at age 62. The same regulations allow smaller benefits for employees who retire at younger ages.

County officials, including Gary and Sutherland, have refused to reveal the names of the four retirees, claiming that state freedom of information laws do not require disclosure of retirement benefits.

But county sources told The Sun on Monday that one of the four retirees being asked to return money is Adrian G. Teel, a former county chief administration officer.

County sources yesterday revealed that one of the others is Steven Welkos, the head of the county finance office who resigned in 1993 during the administration of County Executive Robert R. Neall.

A third is Joseph J. McCann, the county's former director of parks and recreation, who also resigned during Neall's tenure, which ran from 1990 to 1994.

A fourth name could not be confirmed yesterday. Neither McCann nor Welkos could be reached for comment.

County government under Gary, who took office in 1995, has been fighting to cut the large pensions.

The County Council in 1995, for example, voted to repeal parts of the extremely generous 1989 pension law. These efforts, however, have prompted lawsuits by former employees.

Pub Date: 4/10/97

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