Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council overrides Mayor, passes bill to amend DROP

City Council just unanimously voted to override Mayor Nutter's veto of a bill that will preserve the controversial DROP program, while reducing its cost.

Council overrides Mayor, passes bill to amend DROP

City Council just unanimously voted to override Mayor Nutter's veto of a bill that will preserve the controversial DROP program, while reducing its cost.

Nutter has pushed Council to simply end the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, arguing that the city cannot afford the perk, estimated to have cost $100 million since 1999. But Council - which has seven members who are current or past DROP enrollees - chose to modify DROP in the spring.

"The bill that they passed is tinkering around the edges at best," Nutter said today. "The taxpayers can't afford it."

The legislation would delay entry into DROP for non-uniformed workers and would lower the earned interest rate for future participants. Council's consultant predicted the changes would carry a one-time cost of $15 million to $20 million.

Originally, this bill passed Council 14-3. But one of the no votes -- Councilman Jim Kenney -- noted today that sustaining the mayor's veto would be more costly than approving a modified DROP.

"If we vote to sustain the mayor’s veto then that bill is defeated and we would still have in place the original legislation," Kenney said. "So voting to sustain the mayor’s veto puts us in a worse situation than voting to override."

DROP allows city workers to set a retirement date up to four years in the future, at which point their pension benefit is frozen and they start accruing payments in an interest-bearing account while on the payroll. When the employees retire, they collect a lump sum and start receiving pension payments.

DROP has drawn public ire because elected officials have enrolled - including some who signed up, ran for re-election and "retired" for a day to collect a payout before returning to serve. Seven Council members are current or past DROP enrollees. Five chose not to run again, and Councilman Frank Rizzo lost his re-election bid, leaving Councilwoman Marian Tasco as the only one planning to take DROP and return in 2012.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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