Jersey Lawmakers Probe Tacking Allegations

August 28, 2006 ( - New Jersey's pension director said that thousands of workers are accumulating state pension benefits from multiple jobs.

Frederick Beaver, director of New Jersey’s Division of Pensions and Benefits, said last week that 4,731 members of the Public Employees Retirement System and another 213 employees in the pension fund for teachers are accumulating benefits from more than one job in a practice known as “tacking”, according to the Star-Ledger. Beaver told state lawmakers that at least one unnamed individual holds 11 public jobs.

Common examples are attorneys, judges, tax assessors, building inspectors, or health officials who work for more than one town, Beaver told lawmakers on a special committee looking for ways to cut property taxes by reforming public employee benefits. Anyone who earns at least $1,500 a year from a state or local government job qualifies for a public pension. Beaver promised lawmakers a rundown of the 50 people holding the most public positions and their salaries.

Prime Target

However, while “tacking” is a prime target of would-be reformers, Beaver cautioned that simply banning someone from holding multiple part-time public jobs would not save the state money in all cases. According to the Star-Ledger, he explained that someone who works 20 hours a week for two different towns is making contributions into the pension system for both jobs. In that case, Beaver said, “There’s no economic loss to the system.” Beaver said the question is whether some of the people who commonly hold multiple public jobs, notably municipal attorneys, should instead be treated as independent contractors.

Robert Pursell, area director for the Communications Workers of America opined that Beaver’s list of the 50 employees with the most public jobs will not be populated with their rank-and-file members, however. “They’re going to find the top 50 are probably elected officials,” he said, according to the Star-Ledger.