Hollywood's police chief retired in January with a yearly pension of $104,426 and $707,880.52 in his deferred retirement account, says a pension official.
Chad Wagner, 52, didn't stay retired for long.
He started his new job as a captain with the Broward Sheriff's Office on Feb. 4 — just nine days after retiring from the Hollywood Police Department. His annual salary at the Sheriff's Office: $111,410.
As Hollywood's chief, Wagner earned a yearly salary of $134,600. He entered the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, in July 2006. His time in the DROP was up in January, forcing his exit from Hollywood.
Dave Williams, administrator for Hollywood's police pension board, released data about Wagner's retirement benefits to the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday.
Wagner could not be reached for comment.
He will receive his first monthly pension payment of $8,702.17 on March 1.
Wagner can keep the DROP money in the pension fund until he is 71 and collect 8 percent interest per year on the $707,880.52. That translates to more than $56,000 a year in interest alone and more than $1 million over the next 19 years.
After eight years at the Sheriff's Office, Wagner will become vested in that agency's pension.
Public pensions across the region have been in the spotlight in recent years, with critics complaining they are too costly to taxpayers.
Union representatives argue that government employees deserve good pensions, especially police and firefighters who often risk their lives on the job.
Others note that military personnel are frequently in even greater danger, but receive pensions and benefits much less generous than those given to cops and firefighters back home.
"The problem is the retirement pension is simply not only unsustainable, but it's exceptionally too generous, at the expense of the taxpayers," said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, a government watchdog group based in Tallahassee. "A lot of military people who put their lives in great danger do not have such a generous pension and benefit plan. The system needs to be transformed into something fair for law enforcement but also fair for the taxpayers."
Don't blame the cops, firefighters and other government workers, Calabro said. They're just taking advantage of the benefits they've been offered.
Hollywood eliminated its DROP program last year after voters approved sweeping changes to the city's employee pension plans to help save an estimated $8.5 million.
But dozens of employees have already entered the program and, like Wagner, will receive payouts as they leave the city.
Under the DROP, longtime employees can continue working and collecting a salary for a set number of years while "banking" retirement benefits they can take in a lump sum when they leave.
Before Hollywood ended the program, police and firefighters were permitted to stay in the DROP for up to eight years.
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