Lehigh Valley

New employees may work 5 yrs longer for full county pension

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A change to the Lehigh County's pension program is being considered for new employees hired next year.

The proposal was presented to county commissioners Wednesday night and is scheduled for a vote at their June 11 meeting.

It is aimed at any "newly elected or hired county officers or employees" who start work beginning on Jan. 1, 2015.

Those new employees will have to work 35 years to achieve a pension that equals about half their salary, explained Daniel McCarthy, the county's director of administration.

If approved, the proposal will have no effect on existing county employees or retired county employees.

They only have to work 30 years to earn their 50 percent pensions, according to McCarthy.

He said the employees' contribution of five percent will continue to earn interest over those additional five years for the new employees.

He explained the pension change for new employees will save the county some money.

"It will have no real immediate effect," said McCarthy. "But over time, it will have a significant effect."

"The savings are a very, very long way out," said Commissioner Lisa Scheller.

Commissioner Vic Mazziotti said, even with the slight cutback in benefits for new employees, "it's still a very good retirement system."

Mazziotti said employees get their five percent contribution back, with interest, when they retire or leave the county's employment.

McCarthy said only about one third of the county's employees stay in their jobs until retirement.

The proposed change was initiated by a resolution unanimously passed by the county's retirement board earlier this month.

Many appointments were made during Wednesday's commissioners meeting.

Richard D. Molchany, who is president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, unanimously was appointed as the county's new director of general services.

Molchany resides in Walnutport in neighboring Northampton County.

He no longer will be involved in the day-to-day operation of Lehigh Valley Zoo, but will continue to serve on its board.

Atty. Jeffrey Matzkin of Salisbury Township was appointed to the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

Matzkin is a pilot who has taught aviation law.

Mary Ellen Snyder of Upper Milford Township was reappointed to the Lehigh County Conservation District and William L. Royer of Lower Macungie Township was appointed to his first term with that district.

Three men were reappointed to the Lehigh County General Purpose Authority. They are Christopher Lakatosh of Upper Macungie Township, William H. Newhard of Emmaus and Brad Osborne of South Whitehall.

Osborne is a county commissioner.

Commissioner Scott Ott voted against Osborne's reappointment because he said citizens who are not politicians, elected officials or government employees should be appointed to serve on boards and authorities.

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