Published 5:33 pm Monday, October 30, 2006
Amendment should be worded right
A confusing local amendment on the ballot this November has taken Escambia County commissioners by surprise.
Earlier this month commissioners urged county voters to approve the amendment, which would phase out the supernumerary system for county officials and allow certain officials to take part in the state retirement system.
It turns out the bill - which is poorly worded - could allow commissioners themselves to take part in the retirement system, too.
County Administrator Tony Sanks said commissioners did not seek the amendment and never intended to allow themselves the opportunity to take part in the retirement system.
Allowing them to take part isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the confusing nature of the bill and the amendment does make it difficult to support the amendment.
We're all for phasing out the costly and outdated supernumerary system, which gives certain county officials the opportunity to draw a portion of their salary after they retire. Eliminating the program could save the county at least $135,000 a year.
And we don't disagree that county officials and mayors should be allowed to participate in the retirement program. It doesn't cost cities and counties much money; the burden of investment is mainly on the officials.
But we're glad that county commissioners have drawn attention to the discrepancy in the wording of the amendment and the bill, because it gives voters a chance to make the most informed decision.
As for us, we think the amendment isn't worded correctly enough to make the most sense. We hope that if the amendment passes, commissioners will make clear whether they intend to take part. And if the amendment fails, we hope a new amendment will be introduced next year that clearly states who is and is not included in the retirement system - and that clearly phases out the costly supernumerary system.
We've waited long enough to get rid of it; we can wait one more year to get it right.