Sheriff seeking retirement benefits for time in office

Bartholomew County officials are wrangling over the contract for recently re-elected Sheriff Matt Myers.

The sheriff is concerned that his time in office will not be counted toward his retirement.

At this week’s County Council work session, the sheriff’s department attorney Jeff Beck and County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said that the two sides are currently considering a one-year contract for the sheriff, instead of the four-year contract he signed last term.

And that contract will include language saying the sheriff is not waiving his right to benefits, such as retirement benefits, while negotiations continue, Beck said. At issue is a clause in the sheriff’s department retirement plan that says a deputy must be employed for eight years and a month before being eligible for retirement benefits. Sheriffs are limited by term limits to only serve eight years in office. If they did not serve as a county employee prior to their time as sheriff, they would not be eligible for retirement pay.

At last month’s work session, the sheriff said that clause was meant to dissuade outsiders, like himself, from running for sheriff. Prior to serving as sheriff, Myers was a Columbus police officer. He also said he did not want to try to cut a deal with the future sheriff, to keep him on for a month in some capacity after his term ends so he can collect retirement pay.

It appears the the clause was added in the early 2000s, council members said.

County Council members said they had no interest in changing the wording, preventing the sheriff from accruing retirement benefits while in office.

The sheriff’s pay is tied to the pay of county prosecutors and judges. Myers pay next year is budgeted for just under $119,000.