CINCINNATI (AP) -- Judges in southwestern Ohio are fighting over employees who retire and then are rehired so they can collect a pension and a paycheck, also known as "double-dipping."
At a recent meeting of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judges, Judge Melba Marsh said that she was going to ask that Magistrate Michael Bachman be allowed to retire and then be re-hired so he didn't lose a 3 percent increase to his retirement, a feature being eliminated by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System after this year.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/W0mpI5) that Bachman's annual salary is $94,760. If he's allowed to retire and be re-hired, he will get an annual pension of about $63,000 plus his new salary of $75,000, for a total of about $138,000 per year.
That's more than the salaries for all Ohio judges except those on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Bachman's position as a magistrate means he's a quasi-judge who hears cases that otherwise would overwhelm the other 16 judges' dockets, like foreclosures and stalking orders.
Marsh said she will ask judges before the end of the year to sign an entry allowing Bachman to double-dip. She needs nine judges, a majority of the 16 Common Pleas Court judges, to approve for it to become official.
Other judges talked about forming a committee to review its double-dipping policy.
Marsh indicated the move would save money, but some judges say double-dipping isn't fair because it's not applied equally and blocks other employees from advancing.
After presiding Judge Charles Kubicki, Jr., noted that the court has had a policy for years that prevents double-dipping, Marsh responded by saying: "That old policy has been shattered and broken."
Earlier this month, Judge Ralph Winkler walked around an entry for the other judges to sign allowing his court reporter Deb Wallace, who also is the wife of Winkler's friend, to be re-hired after she retired this summer. That allows her to collect a pension and salary of about $100,000 per year.
Winkler did that days after returning from a week-long vacation taken with Wallace and her husband. It also came as other court reporters and court workers weren't allowed to double-dip.
"We've now opened Pandora's box," Kubicki said. "Now, we've got what I call rogue entries where people are just running around with entries."
"Rogue?" Marsh shot back in what became a tense exchange.
Kubicki apologized, telling her he was referring to those who are individually walking around entries instead of taking the matter up for discussion with other judges.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com