To the editor: Salem City Council President Mickey Weaver's most recent letter to the editor was not completely honest and forthright. Either the council president is unfamiliar with Ohio pension law or she has deliberately misrepresented the mandatory maximum payout tables published by the Ohio Public Employment Retirement System. OPERS provides that after 35 years in public employment, moreover, one can retire with 78.5 percent of the average of their best three years annual wage. They are eligible to retire at age 55, fully vested. While it is true that police and firemen in Ohio achieve a maximum payout that is slightly less than other Ohio public employees, they are eligible to retire at 48 years of age, fully vested. How many in the private sector have pension benefits anywhere near as generous as these plans? Meanwhile, Salem is one of a small minority of communities all across Ohio in which, up until now, there had been a zero contribution by the city's safety forces to their very generous pension plan. With public pressure to change thisand the threat of a new state law that would require it be changedCouncil President Weaver is proud to point out that Salem city employees have agreed to now begin contributing to their pensions: 4 percent in year one of their contract, 3 percent in year two and another 3 percent in year three. But what Ms. Weaver artfully neglected to point out is that the city employees will be granted a compensating raise of 10 percent over three years to offset the increased contributions to their pension. So where are the concessions, Madame Council President? Where is the whole and unvarnished truth of this matter? Ultimately, I believe that Salem city employees are about as fine as one could find anywhere - from street and utility workers to police and firemen. They deserve to be well compensated. My beef is not with city employees, but rather with politicians even in my own party who have been playing Santa Claus with the city's increasingly scarce resources while proposing multi-million dollar tax increases that they now acknowledge were not even needed. It is no wonder that Ms. Weaver and the current mayorand the Democrats who want to take control of city hallare all dodging an independent audit of the city government. What more do they have to hide from everybody?
David W. Johnson, Salem