A fire chief got an extra $550K in pension money even after returning to work, and now auditors in Washington are trying to get it back.
The incident happened in DuPont, where Fire Chief Greg Hull was listed as an independent contractor when he was hired by a fire department after retiring from another department. Had Hull been listed as a regular employee his pension would have stopped, but the independent contractor status allowed him to “double dip,” auditors are claiming.
The state wants DuPont to repay the extra $550K that the fire chief earned in retirement money during the time he was working.
“We feel the city is responsible for that overpayment,” said Dave Nelsen, the legal and legislative services manager at the Department of Retirement Systems.
DuPont maintains that Hull and two others listed as independent contractors were counted correctly.
The fire chief’s extra $550k came to light after an investigation by The Associated Press uncovered late pay raises for firefighters and law enforcement workers that allowed them to increase their pensions. Investigators are looking into a raise Hull received shortly before retiring in 2010 from Lakewood Fire District 3.
Hull’s pension, at about $184,000 a year, is one of the largest in the state and accounts for about one-third of DuPont’s annual fire department budget.
After it was uncovered that the fire chief made $550K in extra pension money, he has decided to resign. City leaders said Hull cited “personal reasons” in his resignation.
DuPont Mayor Michael Grayum added that the loss of Hull’s pension was one of those reasons.
“Our community is grateful to Chief Hull for the professional fire department we have today,” Grayum said.
Hull also said uncertainty with the future of his pension led to his resignation.
“I am 66 years old and I came to DuPont after retirement to assist Public Safety through a difficult transitional period,” he said. “I cannot continue to work for DuPont due to technical issues with the Department of Retirement Systems without jeopardizing my retirement.”
The fire chief who earned $55oK can re-apply for pension payments again starting next month.