It is obvious from the shock some people expressed at Monday’s meeting of the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors that not enough of our residents are paying attention.
Paying attention to what, you ask? The culture of entitlement that became entrenched in the Middletown Township Police Department during the 25-year career of the last chief of police.
“Shocking” item no. 1: Twenty-one of the past 23 retirees have gone out on disability retirements. As I explained in a previous blog, retirement pensions and permanent disability pensions are addressed in the PBA contract. If an officer has served enough time to retire, he or she will receive a pension equal to 55 percent of wages earned, averaged over the last three years of service.
If, on the other hand, an officer is retired on permanent disability, this pension goes up to 75 percent of the three-year average, which the retiree receives for life – tax free. A prime example of this is Supervisor George Leonhauser, who receives about $80,000 a year on a disability pension – and has for the past 16 years. The disability-pensioner is free to secure other employment; Leonhauser, for example, has a full-time position with the Bucks County Tech School. He also receives a $4,000 per year stipend for being on the board of supervisors.
The last two disability retirements discussed at Monday’s meeting were for two officers, ages 38 and 40, who had torn rotator cuffs. Rotator-cuff surgery has become quite common place and allows a person to attain full function and rotation of the affected shoulder. However, these officers are allowed to refuse surgery – so you and I will be paying them 75 percent of the last three-year average of their salary, tax-free for the rest of their lives, which could be for 40 years or more.
“Shocking” item no. 2: The contract requires anyone who retires on a disability pension to undergo an annual physical from an independent physician chosen by the Township. This way if a disability has been corrected – say, for example, a person with a torn rotator cuff has it repaired – the retiree can be ordered back to work or forfeit his or her pension.
To date, confirmed at Monday’s meeting, none have undergone this annual physical. I know that when Township Manager Raymond Stepnoski attempted to implement this requirement, he ran up against opposition from the Policeman’s Benevolent Association. Perhaps with the backing of the new Republican-controlled Board he will get better results.