Former HR director points finger at county budget department

The never-ending HR saga about the 401(a) plan has another twist. Maybe this more of a M. Night Shyamalan script than the Coen Brothers.

After eight years of signing checks for the 401(a) annuity plan, Escambia County Comptroller Pam Childers has determined that county staff has miscalculated the contribution rates. She has made the decision to cut the contributions to the 401(a) by 23% for senior staff and 41% for elected officials.

In a phone interview, Childers said she thought it was some former HR director that incorrectly calculated the rate.

Former HR Director Tom Turner (2012-2017) says the county’s budget department determined the rates for the 401(a) plan, not him: “HR did not at any time, while I was there, determine the contribution to the defined contribution plan. That was set in the budget by the budget department.”

“I believe some time in 2013 I noted on my pay advice the amount added to my deferred compensation account increased significantly – I think more than double,” wrote Turner. “I called the budget department to report what I thought was an error in my pay. I was told the amount I was being credited was increased as the required FRS defined benefit pension funding had increased.”

County Administrator Janice Gilley doesn’t have  a budget director. The Budget Office is under Amber McClure, the county’s CFO. McClure was hired last July.  She is enrolled in the 401(a) program.

 


Turner’s Tale

As a former HR director from 2012 to 2017, let me provide information that is first hand to me.

When I was hired by Randy Oliver, who was fired about three days before my first day on the job, I had determined I would not work the eight years required for vesting under the FRS defined benefit plan.

I was told I had the option of a defined contribution plan where the County’s required funding in the defined benefit plan would be placed in my deferred compensation account. I chose that plan and initially the contribution, to my recollection, was in the range of 6 to 8%.

HR did not at any time, while I was there, determine the contribution to the defined contribution plan. That was set in the budget by the budget department. I never received any information from FRS about required contributions to the pension plan.

I believe some time in 2013 I noted on my pay advice the amount added to my deferred compensation account increased significantly – I think more than double. I called the budget department to report what I thought was an error in my pay. I was told the amount I was being credited was increased as the required FRS defined benefit pension funding had increased.

I do know this plan was often presented to directors hired by Jack Brown as several of them were also not intending to work long term or other reasons. The plan, along with the FRS defined benefit plan, was presented to me in the normal on boarding process. The amount of the contribution changed annually as the FRS funding requirement changed.

At no time in my employment period was I ever involved in any discussion or meeting in regard to setting the amount of the contribution to the defined contribution plan or determining what portion of the required FRS funding for the defined benefit plan should be used for the defined contribution plan.

Share:

1 thought on “Former HR director points finger at county budget department

Comments are closed.