The diminishing respect many taxpayers exhibit toward both public employees and public agencies is well explained by a recent story in U-T San Diego entitled “Officials want overpaid pensioner to return $500K.”
It seems a Sheriff’s Department captain retired in 1993 on an annual pension of about $97,000. His wife subsequently divorced him and was awarded about a third of his pension payments. She died in 1997, so the retiree requested restoration of his full pension. It took TWO YEARS to accomplish this herculean task, and he was given retroactive payments, but somehow, his pension was increased a second time by the amount his wife had been drawing, and he began receiving almost $148,000 annually, which he later claimed he didn’t realize was in error.
The huge overpayment continued until September of last year. Luckily, a taxpayer watchdog group, California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, requested information on retirees receiving pensions over $100,000 annually. The request, filed in July 2010, was, of course, fought by the retirement system until told by a court more than a year later that it had to comply, and it soon thereafter discovered its overpayment that had been going on for more than 10 years!