One day on the job qualified returning Wilkes-Barre city worker for pension

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Hayward -

WILKES-BARRE — The quick exit by James Hayward after just over five months on the job as a city health educator turned out to be an extended stay and enough time to set him up with a $18,390-a-year pension.

Hayward, a former city employee, needed just one more day on the city payroll to reach the 12-year mark for vesting when Mayor Tony George hired him earlier this year to fill a health educator position paying $26,000 annually.

But he couldn’t work just one day, immediately retire and collect a pension.

Under the terms and conditions in the city’s Code Ordinances regarding “limited vested benefit” Hayward had to give written notice to the management of the pension board of his intent to vest in the non-uniformed employees’ fund.

He also had to give notice he planned to leave his job, but that had to be at least 30 days after notifying the pension board of his intent to vest.

Hayward’s first day was March 26, and Aug. 31 was his last.

George and Hayward could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The mayor previously acknowledged he hired Hayward, 66, to help him pay for his daughter’s tuition at a local private school and for classes to reactivate his law license that had been suspended for five years beginning in 2010.

But last month George said Hayward caught him off guard with his retirement notice. The health educator job was for two years and paid for by a block grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

At the time George did say he assumed Hayward was leaving because he had put in enough time to qualify for a pension.

The city covered Hayward’s benefits, including a contribution to the pension for City Hall workers represented by the Public Service Employees Local 1310 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local. Employees contribute 5 percent of their monthly salaries or wages.

About his benefits

Information obtained Monday by the Times Leader through a Right to Know request showed Hayward had accumulated a previous total of 7 years, 11 months and 30 days toward his pension.

Hayward, a city firefighter who was injured and left the department, went to law school and joined the administration of former Mayor Tom McGroarty where he held several positions, including city administrator. He was not retained when Tom Leighton took office as mayor in 2004.

He also served in the military, and as allowed by ordinance, bought back four years to push him to within a day of vesting in the pension fund for non-uniformed employees.

The board based Hayward’s pension on the “highest average annual salary” he received “during any five years of service” preceding the notice to vest.

The years and salary were:

• $49,182 in 1999

• $54,432 in 2000

• $57,739 in 2001

• $61,432 in 2002

• $73,119 in 2003.

The average of $295,905 during that time period was $59,181. The board multiplied the five-year average by 31.075 percent to determine the annual amount of $18,390 and divided that by 12 to arrive at the monthly payment of $1,532.

The percentage was determined by comparing the actual years of service to the years he would have had to work to reach the earliest date to retire.

One day back was all it took

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.