Credit to the N&O for publishing this outstanding piece exposing some appalling information about North Carolina’s most lucrative state pensioner.
In 2005, Charles R. Franklin Jr . filed for retirement after running the Albemarle Mental Health Center for 34 years. The first and only director of the public agency serving northeastern North Carolina – one of the state’s poorest areas – started collecting an annual pension of $145,000.
But Franklin didn’t really retire. He returned to the center as a contract employee, with pay and perks totaling $289,000 one year and $319,000 the next. When the state Treasurer’s Office learned of the arrangement, it said the contract violated state law; he was forced to return the pension funds he had received.….But for taxpayers, that’s not where the story ends. Today, Franklin is receiving an annual pension of $211,373, a 46 percent increase from what he would have gotten if he had really retired five years earlier. State records show he is the top-paid pensioner in all of state and local government, one of just two retirees receiving more than $200,000 a year.
The article also includes a list of the top 10 pension recipients, as well as this link to 259 state and local retirees receiving more than $100,000 in annual pension payments.
This system of defined benefit retirement packages is simply unsustainable. Combine the pension problem with North Carolina’s $28 billion unfunded liability for retiree health benefits, and its easy to see that some significant changes need to be made now, before its too late.
One option would be to shift to a defined contribution system, similar to 401(K) funds, in which an employee’s retirement benefits accrue according to how much he/she has contributed during their working career. If its good enough for most of us in the private sector, shouldn’t it be good enough for government workers?