Pension switchover dings state workers

State employees in St. Johns County, who are now mandated to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to cover pension costs, will suffer a deduction one week earlier than required under Florida’s pension plan overhaul — due to the timing of the switchover.

The pension deduction is not supposed to take effect until July 1st; but, accounting problems with the way the state handles payroll, means that affected state employees are actually going to start paying ahead of time.

Because July 1st falls on a Friday, and, is a state payday for thousands of state workers, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has moved up that state payday one day early, to June 30th, so that the June 10-23 biweekly pay period is not subject to the 3 percent contribution rate.

But, that means the next check received by employees of Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, the Florida Department of Military Affairs, and others, will include a 3 percent deduction for work performed during the last week of this month.

According to the Department of Management Services, this change affects some 90,000 state workers, and, although the accounting anomaly will not impact city employees who participate in their own pension plan, it will affect others who are enrolled in the Florida Retirement System.

Most St. Johns County employees and elected officials, as well as those at universities, school districts who are paid biweekly, are going to be impacted.

Governor Rick Scott has promised to pay back the state workers, at some point. He noted that the “legislation may “inadvertently cause inequities” when he signed the pension overhaul into law. Scott pledged to include in his 2012 budget recommendations, “a provision to mitigate the impact of the early contributions paid by state employees for work done during that workweek.”

In his signing letter, the governor urged local governments and school districts to do the same thing and pay back any of their employees.

Share your thoughts with our readers >>