Court Battle Continues Over Allegedly Illegal Pension Changes in Delaware

Delaware map

In Delaware Township, public employees need an auditor’s approval before they receive any changes to their salaries or pensions.

But auditors are claiming two Township supervisors put themselves in a new pension plan without going through the proper channels. Further, the supervisors allegedly broke a separate law when they made the new pension plan retroactive to the dates they started their jobs.

A judge had previously dismissed the auditor’s case, but an appeal is underway. As reported by the Pocono Record:

The court battle will continue over the pension arrangement of two former Delaware Township employees who were also elected supervisors.

Township auditors will appeal a judge’s decision to dismiss their case, which asked that pension payments be stopped for Ileana Hernandez and Ted Parsell, and for the court to order them to pay back any pension money they’ve already collected.

In a written statement in response to the decision, auditors Dennis Lee, Michael Dickerson and Jane Neufeld note that it was township supervisors in 2012 who asked auditors to look into the pension plan.

The case, in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas, alleged that Hernandez and Parsell were illegally compensated after, as supervisors, they approved lucrative pension plans for themselves.

More background on the case and the laws involved, from the Pocono Record:

The Pennsylvania second-class township code states any change in salary or pension must first be approved by the auditors, and any change becomes effective for supervisors/employees only after they are re-elected.

In March 2006, Supervisors Bob Luciano, Hernandez and Parsell and township Solicitor Anthony Magnotta met with then-auditors Dickerson, Louise Chattaway and Kathleen Cancelino.

The supervisors were seeking auditor approval of a proposed new pension plan, but they did not provide any paperwork for the plan.

Instead, Magnotta and the supervisors verbally explained the new pension to the auditors, and it was approved “as presented.”

But at a regular supervisors meeting in March 2006, supervisors approved a pension plan that was different from what was presented to the auditors and made it retroactive to their start dates.

The auditors say they fear the precedent the court would set if they dismissed the case, referring to a lack of accountability for Township supervisors who skirt the law.


Photo: “Flag-map of Delaware” by Darwinek. Licensed under Creative Commons