'Double dipping' costing Delaware millions

    Delaware's auditor says "double dipping" is costing the state 17 million dollars a year.

    Delaware’s auditor says “double dipping” is costing the state 17 million dollars a year.

    A recent investigation revealed more than 1,000 retired state employees are simultaneously collecting a paycheck and a pension payment.

    Auditor Tom Wagner says it’s not unusual for people who retire to come back on the payroll. But he says the practice is going on way too much in Delaware.

    “I was, quite frankly, very surprised that the dollar figures were as large as they were,” he said. “If we can shave some of that off we’ve done our work and we’ve saved the taxpayers some money.”

    Wagner says in many cases re-hiring workers makes sense, like bringing back retired teachers as substitutes. But he says the state could easily save two million dollars a year if better policies were in place.

    “What we’re saying is we should look at this,” he said. “Do we have proper procedures to make sure I don’t retire on a Friday and then come back Monday doing a job that I was doing Friday for a salary and now getting my pension and salary on top of that and it’s really not necessary?”

    The investigation also concluded state agencies should do a better job of training existing employees to take over retirees’ jobs, especially since Governor Jack Markell plans to cut the state’s work force through attrition.

    “One of the focal points of the audit is that you have proper planning,” Wagner said. “If someone’s going to retire in a year or two you need proper internal planning to make sure someone is prepared to take over that job.”

    The results of the audit come just days after State Representative Greg Lavelle filed a state Freedom of Information Act request with Markell’s office regarding the employment of former Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Vince Meconi.

    He’s being paid more than $6,000 a month to help Delaware maximize its federal stimulus funds. That’s on top of his $7,600 monthly state pension.

    Lavelle says he wants a better explanation as to what Meconi is doing, how he’s doing it and how long he’ll be doing it for.

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