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Taxpayers likely make it rain for soon-to-be-retired Sheriff Raney

Taxpayers likely make it rain for soon-to-be-retired Sheriff Raney

Dustin Hurst
April 27, 2015
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April 27, 2015

Taxpayers are likely to make it rain for Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, who will earn more per year in retirement than the average Idaho household brings in annually.

Raney, who has irked firearms rights activists with his stances on gun control, announced his retirement last week in a letter, telling media and colleagues he will leave the Ada County job in June to take a federal position.

After 32 years of service on the job and thanks to a special calculation in state law, Raney will likely bring home about $64,000 a year just in Idaho retirement checks.

U.S. Census Bureau data reveal Idaho’s average household income at just less than $48,000 per year between 2009 and 2013.

IdahoReporter.com asked Ada County Sheriff’s Office to confirm Raney is taking retirement, but the agency did not respond. State law prevents the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho from disclosing pensioner names.

If he is taking monthly pension payments, Raney, 52, is the benefactor of a system that allows Idaho cops and firefighters to retire younger than other workers might and collect retirement checks for years and years longer than private sector workers.

If Raney hits the average life span, about 79 years for an American man, and collects checks until then, he will net more than $1.7 million over the span.

He could also qualify for a federal pension payment, even though his federal job is part-time. In the new post, he will join a U.S. Department of Justice specialty team dedicated to assisting community police departments improve their policies and processes. Raney didn’t say if that work would happen in a certain region of the country.

The soon-to-be-ex-sheriff didn’t reveal his new wage for the federal job.

If Raney stays with the DOJ for more than three years, he will qualify for a monthly federal pension check, which will likely be significantly less than his monthly Idaho retirement payment.

This process is known as double-dipping, something pension watchdogs loathe more than nearly every other taxpayer-abusing practice. Why? Critics see pensions not as an income supplement to pad the bank accounts of government workers, but rather as a salary replacement.

Governing, a publication dedicated to watching government minutiae, suggested forcing all public workers to stay on the job until Medicare or Social Security retirement age or take reduced payouts.

The publication also suggested special taxes for those who double-dip with pensions and second government jobs.

Scott Moody, one of these critics and an economist for State Budget Solutions, told IdahoReporter.com Monday that Raney’s situation is tough for taxpayers.

“Retiring at 52 is problematic just as the retirement age for Social Security is problematic--it is not adjusted for the extension in lifespans,” Moody wrote in an email. “When promises were made for retirement, the average beneficiary had a much lower expected lifespan remaining. Longer lifespans make these arrangements unsustainable and reforms are needed.”

Steven Greenhut, another pension watchdog and author of Plunder: How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation, echoed Moody’s sentiments.

“Because pensions for police are so generous, it makes little sense for them to keep working on their job when they hit their 50s because they get paid nearly as much or even more in retirement than if they stay on the job,” Greenhut told IdahoReporter.com. “So they go on to take jobs in other systems and end up living like CEOs -- all funded by taxpayers who will earn a pittance in retirement of what these so-called public servants are receiving.”

Greenhut, too, suggested officials all over the country take a second look at pension payouts to ease the burden on taxpayers, who funded the majority of retirement expenses for public workers.

“Double-dipping is proof positive that the current retirement system is far too generous,” Greenhut said. “Many employees want to keep working -- and many agencies are paying a shadow work force of retirees that is larger than the number of police and deputies who are on the job.”

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