From the Baltimore Sun
Pensions add up for Schaefer
He'll collect $165,000 from city and state governments
By Greg Garland and Andrew A. Green
January 22, 2007
Nobody ever accused William Donald Schaefer of getting into public
service for the money, but his five decades as a Baltimore city
councilman, mayor, governor and comptroller have positioned him to
receive more in pension benefits than he was earning on the job.
All told, Schaefer, 85, is due to collect a taxpayer-funded pension of
$165,000 a year from city and state government, records show.
His pension is more than the governor's annual salary of $150,000, and
it easily tops what two other Maryland political figures who have also
exited the public stage - former U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. - will receive this year after
decades of government service.
A government watchdog group that tracks pensions of members of Congress
calculated that Sarbanes will draw a pension of $119,214. Curran said
he was advised that his pension will be $54,800 a year.
Because Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. served only one term, his
gubernatorial pension will be worth $50,000 a year, and he won't get it
until he turns 55, six years from now, under state guidelines.
His eight years in Congress make him eligible for a pension for that,
too, but it's worth $11,637 a year under the federal formula, and he
won't get it until he's 62. He would have been eligible at age 60 for a
pension from his years in the legislature - a benefit now worth $10,440
- but he decided at the time not to participate in the plan.
Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, a government
watchdog group, said public employee pensions generally are much more
generous than those found in the private sector.
"That's doubly true for elected officials," he said. "They often
participate at a higher and more generous level than the rank-and-file
employees they may be supervising."
Asked about Schaefer's pension, Sepp said: "For that many years of
public service, he obviously has a large retirement benefit coming. But
do his constituents get that kind of pension for putting 40 or 50 years
into their jobs? Not likely."
State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Schaefer's sizable
pension is warranted given his age and the important positions that he
has held in state and city government over many years.
"He didn't get into public life for a pension," Miller said. "He would
much rather stay in office and not receive any pension at all, but the
voters chose otherwise. ... He's a very frugal person."
The $165,000 a year that Schaefer is due to receive in city and state
pensions is not all of his retirement pay.
He retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve after 37 years, which
entitles him to a military pension. Information about the amount that
he receives as a military pension was not available. Schaefer, through
a spokesman, declined to discuss his pensions.
By law, Schaefer was not able to collect his $75,000-a-year
gubernatorial pension during the period that he drew a salary as
Maryland comptroller, from 1998 until this year. He can resume drawing
the gubernatorial pension effective today, when he leaves office.
Schaefer did continue to collect his city pension, now $75,410 a year,
and his military pension while serving as state comptroller, according
to city retirement system records and his spokesman.
Schaefer entered the city's retirement program in January 1987 after 32
years in city government as a council member and mayor, records show.
His city pension is set by a formula for elected officials and, by
statute, increases any time City Council members receive a pay raise.
Schaefer's eight years as state comptroller add about $15,000 a year to
his pension money, according to the state's formula for calculating
The pension Sarbanes is due to receive as a retiring U.S. senator is
not regarded as a matter of public information.
Sepp, of the National Taxpayers Union, said federal authorities have
maintained since 1989 that information about the individual pensions of
retired members of Congress is not subject to public disclosure laws
because releasing it "does not serve a compelling public interest."
Sepp's group uses the federal formula for retiring members of Congress
to estimate their pensions. Based on Sarbanes' 36-year career in
Congress, Sepps said, he would be entitled to the maximum pension
allowed by law.
Assuming that Sarbanes chose the pension option typically selected by
retiring members with spouses, he will draw a maximum pension that now
stands at $119,214.
Efforts to reach Sarbanes to discuss his pension, through one of his
former aides and an e-mail message, were not successful.
Curran said he was told by state retirement system officials that his
pension will be $54,800 a year.
He said that was calculated based on his 20-year career in the General
Assembly, four years as lieutenant governor, 24 years as attorney
general and four years of military service.
Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun