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4 Bridgewater Retirees Get Over $100K Pension

More than 1,200 public retirees in the state receive pensions that are more than $100,000.

A total of four former school district employees in Bridgewater are part of the so-called "$100K" club, receiving more than $100,000 in pension from the state of New Jersey.

All four former employees came out of the .

Last year, 1,244 former employees collected more than $100,000, according to New Jersey Watchdog. This number has increased by 28 percent since 2010, according to New Jersey Watchdog. 

Former Bridgewater-Raritan superintendent Walter Mahler tops the list with $109,350 in pension per year. He is followed by former principal John Petronella, at $107,197 in pension per year.

, who ran for board of education in 2011, is retired from the school district, where she worked in curriculum for kindergarten through fourth grade math and science. Her pension is at $101,538.

Finally, at the end of the Bridgewater list is Lorraine Lotowycz, retired principal, whose pension is at $100,723.

In a quick rundown, the four members of the "club" are:

Walter Mahler: $109,350

John Petronella: $107,197

Barbara Kane: $101,538

Lorraine Lotowycz: $100,723

Jason Schiff April 05, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Alright. I'm ready for all of the negative posts about teacher pensions. Oh. Wait. The ridiculously high pensions are going to former members of administration. No teachers made this list, at least from BR. Shocking.
Mike April 05, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Who wrote this article? The department of redundancy department? Does an article this short really need to close with "a quick rundown?" Anyway... Sure, it hurts to see others' good fortune (reverse Schadenfreude?), especially when one is struggling in a crappy economy (I even hear some had to switch from premium to regular gas in the 'Benz). But this deferred compensation was "the deal" over the decades these folks worked, and it's their due. And BRRSD is NOT cutting these checks - TPAF is. So now we know the four who are over $100K. How about the 40+ whose pensions are under $10K/yr? How many retired B-R District retirees are there (i.e., are these four simply outliers or representative of many)? What is the median? Does any of this really matter? I'm waiting for someone to suggest the District should start denying tenure to ALL new employees and keep a revolving door of 22-25 year olds who all make under $50K/yr? Hell, make 'em all 1099 contractors and pay 'em $11/hr with no benefits. Even empty nesters would pine for today's home values if that ever came to pass. Finally, readers should know that public employees are required to pay into the pension fund (unlike the State, which fulfills this legal obligation when it feels like it). Current District employees contribute 6.5% of their salaries, soon to be 7.5%. DISCLAIMER: I have no dog in this fight; I don't work for BRRSD.
BR Parent April 05, 2012 at 12:56 AM
It should be noted that administrators (superintendents, principals, supervisors) negotiate separately from teachers. Administrators contracts are not negotiated by representation from the local NJEA union.
Mike April 05, 2012 at 01:17 AM
I believe the Administrators are in the same pension system, but work under a different contract and are part of a different union. And top management (assistant super and super) negotiate their own contracts. Someone correct me if this is wrong.
Donald Elias April 05, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Bottom line is we can not afford this level of generosity. What percentage of their last 10 years salary is the pension? Don
Parent of 3 April 05, 2012 at 04:01 PM
The concern that people have is the ever increasing burden on the tax system overall - regardless of whether if it is at the local, state or federal level. If you simply add up the lifetime commitment of the 4 people in the article and the 40+ people you refer to, you're talking about $8-10M of obligated debt that this and the next generation needs to cover. Keep multiplying that across past and current public sector employees that qualify for pensions, and mix in an uncertain economy and increasing level of debt, you can understand why people are concerned. Its not about one person getting more than another - its about how much of a tax burden are we going to put on our children, and their children, because we can not make the tough decisions now about what we can and can't afford.
Lisa Hess April 06, 2012 at 03:20 AM
It should be noted that Barbara Kane, in particular, is well worth her pension! I am a B-R teacher and mother of 4 kids who went to B-R schools. Barbara dedicated her life to education, and B-R was blessed to have her.
Synergy April 11, 2012 at 06:06 PM
All the rest of us working in the corporate world are in economic shock not to mention crushed by NJ taxes - 100k, plus health benefits (worth no less than 20k), annually for the rest of your life? So doing the math, multiply by 20 future years (minimum)...$ 2,400,000. Less 7% of their average salary over 30 past years - for arguments sake $75k x .07 = $5250x30= $157,500. $2,242,500 for this pension is the reason this state's taxes are crushing. Even if you cut the numbers in this example in half, government workers' and teachers' pensions are still unsustainable. If anyone wants to correct this math please elucidate... Teachers and govt workers should be paid an appropriate salary up front (like everybody else), and the pension system abolished.
A BR Parent April 12, 2012 at 01:43 AM
A 100K pension for the rest of your life. How can any sane person not get angry at that ? I second the suggestion that the pension system should be abolished. Everybody gets paid a reasonable salary, gets reasonable benefits, and reasonable raises (based upon proper evaluation). Once you retire, the district's obligation towards you ends. You should save for retirement like everybody else in this country is expected to. And as for the revolving door, it might not be a bad thing. New blood will bring new ideas. Will be more willing to work hard unlike a lot of tenured teachers. As for teachers starting work at 7 am and working until 6 pm, obviously it is an exception and not the norm. In the corporate world, I am expected to come home and check into the office in the evening or at night. I don't complain. It is just a part of the job.
Metoo April 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Ms. Gladfelter, Your property tax going up has nothing to do with salaries/benefits. I've explained this many times to people, but they don't seem to understand it. I'll try again. NJ schools spend plenty per pupil. Where that money comes from and how it is dispersed is the problem. NJ is 48th in state support of schools. While elite wealthy districts in MD for example might get 30% funding from the state, the same district in NJ might get 0-10%. While NJ's cities get 80%...this is a fairly common practice nationwide for low income citiies. Your property taxes are high because this system requires schools to be funded directly at the local level, mostly from you. If it were funded by the state, as is the case in most States, the States varied revenue sources would come into play and less burden would be on you. Want lower property taxes? Start demanding that NJ becomes 25th in the nation for state support of public schools rather than 48th. Until then, don't complain about your property taxes while your schools receive 0-15% funding. Look up your district on the state report card and see how much your schools get.
Mike April 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM
@BR Parent: 1) FOUR retirees make that pension - it's not the median or average. And the pension system will be abolished over time; as it is, there are 5 tiers to the system, so newer participants' benefits are much lower than old timers'. 2) Define reasonable. 3) The only reason educators mention their hours is in response to attacks from people who insist they only work 9am to 3pm and "babysit" all day. 4) You are obviously an articulate, hard-working captain of industry who is accustomed to working 14-16 hours/day (brava!) - use your expertise, get your sub certificate, and show those lazy people how it's done. 5) New blood does bring new ideas, and until recently, as teachers retired, new ones were hired. My point here was to propose make it official district policy to stop granting tenure so as to keep all new hires on the first three steps of the salary guide (mid-40s) to reduce salary expense, much like many companies have hired temps/contractors. We could then reward upper management for the savings, much like private companies have done. FYI, Shadrack makes an interesting point here: http://tinyurl.com/77htof9
Mike April 12, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Two big differences between NJ and many other states: 1) you see a line item in your tax bill for schools, 2) you get to vote on the school budget. Since all the other stuff, from the Turnpike employees who make $70/hr and up on holidays for removing tire carcasses from the roadway to the cost of Chris Christie catching a State Police helicopter ride (and then taking a limo the final 100 yards) to see his son play baseball, gets hidden. <http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/gov_christie_arrives_at_sons_h.html> One solution is to state-fund all public education, which will increase income or other taxes but reduce local taxes. Then sticker shock goes away.
Metoo April 12, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Plus, the pension system has been funded, at least over 90% of it, from the net pay of its members. I say they should get out of letting the State do anything with it since they've paid so little into it.

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