Kulpmont did not 'buy out' Wilson; former chief not eligible for pension
KULPMONT - The borough did not "buy out" the remainder of Police Chief Rick Wilson III's five-year contract in agreeing to an "amicable" departure earlier this week, Mayor Myron Turlis said Thursday.
And while the 35-year-old Wilson phrased the split as an "early retirement" in a letter to the borough, he was not employed at Kulpmont long enough to be entitled to any pension money, treasurer Paul Niglio said.
Turlis said the "retirement" language versus "resignation" isn't significant as far as he's concerned, and it won't have any impact on closing out Wilson's contract early. The five-year pact, reached in 2009, was set to expire Dec. 31.
"Everyone worked together to reach the amicable split between the two parties, and everything was done with the best interest of the taxpayers in mind," Turlis said Thursday.
Wilson was making $40,000 in salary plus benefits. Annual costs of $6,400 - up $750 from 2012 - for health/hospitalization, $500 dental and $200 for life insurance are listed as police department benefits in the budget. Wilson was the only full-time officer, so it's assumed those costs are related to his coverage.
Issues with the chief began last week when the borough announced it was suspending operation of the police department. The suspension began July 17, the same day the borough's police liability insurance policy expired because the former carrier was unwilling to renew it.
Two days into the suspended operation, a new policy was agreed upon and the police department resumed operation later that evening.
That was followed by Tuesday's special meeting, when Wilson met with borough council in an executive session.
That's where Wilson submitted his one-paragraph letter. It reads:
"I am writing this letter to notify you that I am hereby accepting council's offer of early retirement from this police department. My retirement will be effective as of midnight tonight, which allows me time to return my issued equipment and remove my personal belongings from the station. I will be turning over my keys and equipment to Patrolman Patrick McAndrew, the on-duty officer. I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity to serve you and your community, specifically as Chief of Police."
Council accepted the letter on a 6-0 vote with council president Bruno Varano and members Joseph Winhofer, Phil Scicchitano, Stephanie Niglio, Stephen Motyka, Nicholas Bozza voting yes. Councilmember Clarence Deitrick was absent from the meeting.
Borough treasurer Paul Niglio said that despite the "retirement" language in the letter, Wilson will not receive any pension payments from the borough.
"A borough police officer must be employed full time with the department for 10 years before they become vested in the pension," Niglio said.
Wilson served five years. Niglio said Wilson did not pay into the fund, either.