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Tallmadge -- Tallmadge City Schools Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer Jeff Hostetler will stay with the school district after he retires at the end of the year.
The Board of Education unanimously voted Dec. 11 to accept his resignation, effective Dec. 31, and then rehire him on a contract that begins Jan. 1 and ends July 31, 2017. He will make an annual salary of $88,601.
The new contract will replace his current contract, which is set to expire July 31, 2015. Hostetler makes an annual salary of $95,352 under that contract.
"I'm excited to save what is equivalent to about $50,000 [over the new contract duration], or about $10,000 a year in contract savings, and keep the same person in the job," Board President Rick Kellar said.
Hostetler declined to comment about the Board's vote during the meeting other than thanking the Board for their "vote of confidence."
"I am very appreciative that the Board has given me the opportunity to access my retirement benefits that I have paid into for the past 30 years, and also to continue my work here as treasurer of Tallmadge City Schools," he later told the Tallmadge Express.
Last August, Hostetler informed the Board that he was interested in retiring from the School Employees Retirement System and asked that he be rehired into the same position. He said that because he'll be eligible to retire after 30 years of service as a school district treasurer, he plans on drawing from his pension through SERS.
Hostetler, who will be 54 when he retires, has been the school district's treasurer/CFO since 2004. He lives in Rootstown.
During a public hearing before the regular meeting, Board members cast their votes, and some Tallmadge residents spoke against Hostetler's proposed retire/rehire. Some suggested the Board consider allowing him to retire and then hire an unemployed or not-as-experienced school treasurer from Tallmadge to replace him, or share a treasurer with another school district to save money.
Others were against the proposal because they don't like "double-dipping," a term used to describe the act of a retired public employee who draws from a pension while earning a salary in the same or another public job.
"I can't go anywhere in this country and work for another railroad and still withdraw from my pension," said Ron Salmon, a retired railroad worker. "I'm also concerned that there are other people here in Tallmadge who would do a decent job, may not have quite the experience that you do, but [they've] got to learn."
Resident Gary Lampey said the public retirement system is to blame.
"[Hostetler's] got the right to do it. I'm amazed ... This is like we're trying to sign an all-star third baseman for the Cleveland Indians. We're trying to lock him up for the next six years and get a deal out of it ...," he said.
Hostetler told the Tallmadge Express that the school district isn't paying him twice because his pension with SERS is separate from any school district funds.
"There really is no difference from a district standpoint as to how I will be paid moving forward except for a lesser salary. So, in fact the district truly is saving money with this decision," he said.
Valorie Prulhiere was among the Board members who, after voting, responded to the residents' statements with an explanation of why she voted in favor of the measure.
"As representatives of the community elected to advocate for schools, for education, to be stewards of the taxpayers' money, to do our homework, to make an informed choice, to realize those savings, is in my opinion being very responsible to the taxpayers and to our neighbors in the community ... ," she said. "For my tax dollars, to have a treasurer in that position that I know has the skills and the expertise and the insight to put all of those things in context to keep our school district healthy, I think that's a wise choice."
Director of Business Steve Wood and Director of Student Services JoAnn Chirakos also thanked the Board for their decision to rehire him. Both said Hostetler helps them do their jobs better.
Another case of double dipping! When you retire! Retire! Give someone else a chance!