Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg overpays pensions for 71 police officers

ST. PETERSBURG — A clerical error could cost the city more than $1 million in pension benefits for 71 police officers.

The miscalculation, caused by a computer-programming mistake, had been going on since 2008 until it was discovered last year. In that time, 71 officers retired or entered the Deferred Retirement Option Plan and were overpaid $217,000.

Mayor Bill Foster is asking the City Council to approve a settlement that would allow the officers to continue to receive the higher payments — meaning the mistake will cost taxpayers roughly $87,000 a year for several decades.

The officers retired based upon erroneous calculations and could have retired later in order to earn higher benefits. The officers must sign statements saying they "detrimentally relied" on the pension calculations when making their decisions.

The city already has repaid the $217,000 to the police pension board.

The error occurred when staffers updated the pension-calculation system in 2007 to include up to 100 overtime hours in the payouts. Officers pensions are based on salaries earned in the last three years of work.

The mistake came to light in February 2011 when a staffer reviewed benefits for Lorraine Yaslowitz, whose husband, Jeffrey, died along with Tom Baitinger when a gunman hiding in an attic shot both officers on Jan. 24, 2011.

At that time, the computer should have calculated Yaslowitz's overtime back to January 2008, but the figure went back to 2004. The city then notified the pension board.

In the following three months, staff reviewed retiree calculations between 2004 and 2011 and found pensions for 71 officers had been miscalculated.

To solve the problem, the pension board requested the officers change their payment options, the amount paid to a beneficiary, or return to work to earn additional pension credits.

With those being the only choices, the city reached the settlement to pay the money, said Gary Cornwell, the human resources director.

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at

St. Petersburg overpays pensions for 71 police officers 07/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.