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Chella retires after getting pension boost

By Johnny Destino

How sweet it is! Based on actuarial tables, former Niagara Falls Police
Superintendent John Chella upped his pension by $400,000 by sticking around one year.

Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Chella has finally retired, admittedly, a year later than originally expected.
Chella originally planned to retire on December 30, 2011 before abruptly withdrawing his retirement papers as the result of a dispute with the NY State Retirement System regarding his final salary calculation.

In 2011, Chella earned a base salary of $85,800 but reported a much higher figure as his final salary as a result of receiving additional allowances and overtime pay. The dispute with the Retirement System stemmed from the lack of a written agreement between the City and Chella regarding such additional payments prompting Chella to reconsider the timing of his retirement.

As reported earlier this year by the Reporter, a written agreement was passed by the City Council at the March 5, 2012 council meeting detailing the modified payment and pension plan as drawn between the City and Chief Chella which took effect for the year 2012.

Chella’s base salary for 2012 was $88,072. His final salary, however, was surely closer to the $125,000 figure he expected his pension to be based on last year as a result of the City Council agreement.

Chella, as an exempt employee, would not normally have been eligible to receive overtime payment. However, the practice of the city has been to occasionally pay additional compensation to exempt employees working more than 40 hours a week.
This practice is unheard of in the private sector as it is understood that well-compensated salaried employees don’t work a fixed schedule – they work until the job or task at hand is completed.

When trying to understand the real costs of government, you can’t merely crack open the budget and find a line item highlighting the true and actual costs. What you would have found is that the Police Superintendent was expected to earn $88,072 last year.

For the sake of illustration, we can approximate the difference between retiring at nearly $88,072 vs. $125,000.

Tier 1 Police and Fire Retirement System calculations state that the maximum is to be 75% of your final average salary. As a result of the written agreement between the City Council, the mayor and the superintendent, Chella can expect to receive about $25,000 a year more in his pension than if he would have retired at the end of 2011.

The average life expectancy in NY State is estimated to be around 80 years.

Chella’s retirement, actuarially, may wind up costing taxpayers an additional $400,000 as a result of the agreement.



Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Jan 08 , 2013