Will DROP Research Ever Be Completed?

Is something actually going to happen soon on DROP?

Mayor Nutter today sounded optimistic that he might soon see City Council action on his proposal to end the controversial retirement perk known as the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Over four months have gone by since Nutter sent DROP-killing legislation to Council, after an administration-commissioned study from Boston College said the program had cost $258 million since 1999.

The issue quickly bogged down when Council sought its own review of the study from Bolton Partners, an actuarial consulting firm based in Baltimore. And now the chief actuary for Bolton says they are waiting on Boston researchers to answer some questions before they can produce a finished product.

So what’s going on at Boston? We couldn’t get a straight answer. When we called Prof. Anthony Webb, of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a staffer referred us back to Nutter’s press office.

Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald said: “Based on some discussion with Bolton folks, the researchers at Boston are doing additional analysis. They understand the importance of getting this done as soon as possible and they are working toward that end.”

McDonald could not say when the work would be complete. Still, Nutter said today he thought it would be soon.

“We’re expecting a final report very, very shortly,” he said.

DROP allows city workers to set a retirement date up to four years in advance. At that point, their pension benefit is frozen and they start accruing pension payments in an interest-bearing account. Workers get those payments in a lump sum when they retire, in addition to their full city pension.