The town of Andover is in an exceptionally strong position to pay for a small increase to the retirement benefits. The town has an enormous amount of free cash; the total free cash is clearly in excess of $12.7 million. The small pension increase cost represents less than 1 percent of the free cash. The town of Andover does not pay into a 401(k) saving programs for the employees, currently does not pay the Social Security tax of 6.25 percent and has an excellent credit rating.
Andover’s selectmen and Finance Committee must apply objective and intelligent logic to raising retirees’ cost-of-living base. The proposed $60 a year, or $5 per month, is morally compelling and clearly logical. This reasonable, proper increase in pension benefits cost is rationally balanced between the current employees and the taxpayer.
Additionally, pursuant to federal law, the town of Andover is potentially mandated to pay the Social Security tax on paid details, bonuses and overtime. Whereas, public-sector wage supplements are not included in the calculation for pension benefits purposes under state law. That tax is currently not being paid. In the event Andover did pay the Social Security tax, then the federal government pension offset statute would not apply and the town’s employees could collect Social Security benefits.
Fred Sunderland is a retired Andover police officer who collects a pension from the town. After spending many years in Andover, he says he now lives in Haverhill because he cannot afford the property values in town.