Council again turns down sheriff’s request for pension benefits

The years Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers has spent in office will still not vest him with the pension benefits of a county deputy.

The Bartholomew County Council heard a proposal from the sheriff’s department merit board again this week to change the current rules to allow merit deputies to qualify for pension benefits when they retire, if they have served 8 years in the department, instead of the current 8 years and 1 month requirement.

Jeff Beck, attorney for the sheriff’s department, said that the extra 1 month requirement is a leftover from the old boys network days, when the sheriff’s department did not want an outsider to run for the office. Sheriffs have a two-term limit in Indiana, meaning a sheriff who has not previously served in the department will never earn pension benefits from the office.

Other county office holders who are term limited can begin accruing pension benefit at the flat eight years, but they do use a different pension system than deputies.

Susan Thayer-Fye, head of the merit board, pointed out that based on the actuarial estimates used to calculate the county’s pension contributions, the county has been pre-paying the sheriff’s benefits, even though he can not access them.

The issue has been before the council several times and the County Council has been reluctant to change the pension agreement to benefit Myers. This week the proposal went down without even getting a motion for approval.

The council did approve increases to the death benefits paid to a deputy’s spouse and children should the deputy die on duty. The current pay out is $200 per month for a spouse, and $30 per month per each minor child. which are the state’s statutory minimums. The merit board increased the spousal pay to $1,000 per month and to $200 per minor child. The change will be retroactive to the start of the year.