As a Baltimore County Council member seeks to repeal a policy that allows the county executive and other high-ranking officials to collect lucrative pension benefits, the council’s attorney is warning that it might not be legal to take the benefits back.
Councilwoman Vicki Almond introduced a bill Monday that would overturn a 2010 law that allows several former council members — including County Executive Kevin Kamenetz — to earn two pensions and receive a lump-sum payment when they leave county employment.
The arrangement has been criticized as “double-dipping.”
But in a memo to the council chairman, council legislative counsel and secretary Tom Peddicord said he had advised Almond not to make the bill retroactive. Peddicord wrote that the county employees receiving the benefits appear to have met the requirements of the policy, and “have vested rights in the accrued benefits.”
“The law in Maryland appears to give persons who have legitimately fulfilled the contractual commitments of a pension plan the most protection,” Peddicord wrote.
County Attorney Mike Field, who is appointed by the county executive and represents county government in legal matters, told The Baltimore Sun he agrees with Peddicord’s assessment.
Almond said her legislation “speaks for itself.”
My position on this is clear,” the Reisterstown Democrat said in a statement. “I look forward to working on this issue with my colleagues in the coming weeks.”
A vote on her measure is scheduled for September. Almond is considering a run for county executive next year.
Kamenetz, also a Democrat, stands to receive $118,000 annually from two pensions he accrued — one from his four terms as a council member and another from his two terms as county executive — plus a $384,000 payout when he leaves office, money from his council pension that he banked while serving as executive.
Former council members Vince Gardina, now the county’s environment director, and Sam Moxley, a top aide to Kamenetz, are also eligible to earn two pensions and receive lump-sum payments when they leave county employment.
Kamenetz, Gardina and Moxley were members of the council that in 2010 approved the provision that would eventually allow them to receive the enhanced pension benefits. The provision was an amendment to legislation that reduced county worker benefits in an effort to shore up the retirement…