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Montgomery Co. Commissioners argue over access to state pension plan

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

There were some tense moments at the Montgomery County Commission meeting Monday as commissioners voted on a bill that could allow them to benefit from the state's pension plan.

Montgomery County Commissioner Elton Dean quickly brought the measure to a vote.  Commissioners Dean, Dan Harris and Jiles Williams voted in support while Reed Ingram and Dimitri Polizos voted in opposition.

But the rub over whether county commissioners, who are part-time employees, should benefit from the state's retirement plan, is far from over.

"We get life insurance, we get health insurance, we get phones, which I don't take a phone or an iPod or a credit card," explained Commissioner Ingram.

"That's very newsworthy for the papers and the TV cameras," Chairmen Dean said, wasted no time responding.  

"Well I wasn't doing it for the news," Reed argued back. "I voted against my last raise." 

Then, talking over each other, Dean made his point, "They get insurance and all that, but they also pay for it, and it also comes out of their check."

If the bill is approved by the Alabama Legislature and a local vote, Montgomery County tax payers would be responsible for paying about 10% of each commissioner's salary into the Retirement Systems of Alabama, salaries that start around $15,000 and go up to more than $20,000. Only commissioners who serve 10 years or more would be eligible. 

"It may not cost the tax payers much, but everything adds up," Reed argued.

Supporters fired back citing Montgomery County is one of only about 15 county commissions that do not provide state retirement plans.

Dan Harris, who proposed the measure, agrees. "It strengthens RSA. The more members participating in RSA, the stronger that number is."

County Commission Salaries

                                                        Annual Salary             Expense Allowance

Chairman Elton N. Dean                   $20,018.25           +             $16,000       =   $36,018.25

Reed Ingram                                    $15,713.25           +             $16,000       =   $31,713.25

Jiles Williams, Jr.                               $16,263.21           +             $16,000       =   $32,263.21

Dimitri Polizos                                   $15,713.25           +             $16,000       =   $31,713.25

Dan Harris                                        $15,713.25           +             $16,000       =   $31,713.25

WSFA 12 News contacted several members of Montgomery's legislative delegation to see if they would vote in favor of the bill. Most wanted to see the financial impact it would have on the county before they would say whether they would approve.

Getting the numbers for the bill's impact was not possible Monday. The county's lobbyist did not respond to requests and the human resources official was out of the office.

If passed by the legislature, a referendum would go before Montgomery County residents, who would have the final say.

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