Council DROPs hearings until April

    After a financial review of the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Program, a consultant for Philadelphia City Council has concluded it costs less than the $258 million Mayor Michael Nutter’s experts had estimated.

    But City Council hearings and legislative action on DROP are unlikely before April.

    Baltimore-based Bolton Partners Inc. said the Boston University team engaged by Nutter made some errors in its review of DROP, some of which the Boston University team has acknowledged. The council’s consultants said the true cost of DROP is closer to $100 million over the life of the program.

    Council president Anna Verna said she’d like to consider some changes that could make the program cost-neutral, such as requiring more contributions from employees enrolled in DROP. But Verna said it will take until April to get the necessary cost evaluation of those changes from actuaries at the city pension board.

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    Verna’s spokesman Anthony Radwanski said Verna would like to hold hearings on all proposals regarding DROP then.

    But Councilman Frank DiCicco, who has proposed legislation allowing him and others to withdraw from DROP, wants hearings now.

    “This was an issue that needed immediate attention,” DiCicco said. “We owe the public, the citizens of this city, the taxpayers, immediate action on this issue. So I’ve been calling for hearings since August which is several months ago.”

    An April hearing would likely generate more unflattering media reports about DROP and City Council right before the May 17 primary.

    Nutter said the council should end, not modify the program, and do it now.

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