Saturday, July 26, 2014
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Tasco to retire, but only for a day

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco retires for a day, collects $478,057 pension check, and returns to work.

Tasco to retire, but only for a day

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco is retiring Friday, but only so she can collect a $478,057 pension check and return to work Monday, when she will be sworn in for her seventh term.

Tasco was one of six Council members to enroll in the city’s controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, better known as DROP. She did not immediately return a request for comment.

Plan participants trade a lower lifetime pension for a large one-time lump sum payment, but they are supposed to retire when they get that check.

Several elected officials, however, exercised a right approved by two city solicitors to run for election, retire for a day, collect their DROP payments, and return to work.

Tasco was one of six Council members to do that. But DROP enrollment became such a political liability that participation in the plan played a role in the decisions of four other Council members - Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller, Jack Kelly and President Anna Verna - not to run again. Councilman Frank Rizzo lost his reelection bid in part because he was enrolled in DROP.

Taco may have paid a price, too. She was widely expected to replace Verna as president, but as the DROP controversy grew, Tasco’s candidacy for the leadership spot faded. Instead, Councilman Darrell Clarke, who is not enrolled in DROP, will be the next president.

DROP allows participants to pick a retirement date four years in the future. That decision freezes their yearly pension payment and prompts the city to deposit an amount equal to their payment in an interest-bearing account. At some point before the end of the four years, the employee retires and collects the lump-sum check.

When DROP was introduced during the Rendell administration, it was thought that it would cost little or nothing.

But a study by the administration of Mayor Nutter said DROP had cost the city $258 million over 10 years. A later study paid for by Council put the pricetage at $100 million over 10 year.

Nutter proposed abolishing DROP, but Council instead chose to modify it to reduce its cost.

Contact staff writer Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520, hillmb@phillynews.com or @miriamhill on Twitter.

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

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