Mayor Nutter: it's time to drop "DROP"

CENTER CITY - August 3, 2010 "We must drop the DROP program it is time for it to go."

The mayor was clear, DROP, Philadelphia's controversial deferred retirement option, popular with thousands of city workers is a costly failure for taxpayers.

At most it was supposed to be inexpensive to implement but according to a new study ordered by Mayor Nutter, dense with economic formulas the price tag for DROP is a whopping $258-million since 1999.

"We cannot afford it, we cannot afford this program any longer and it must go."

Under DROP a worker can retire and continue working for up to 4 years. The worker's pension level is frozen and pension payouts are collected in a special DROP account. The worker collects his salary; a kind of legal double dip, at the end of the period the worker departs with that DROP account lump sum, and then can begin collecting his pension in a normal fashion.

DROP was pitched as a way to keep highly quality workers from retiring early. But cries of gravy train emerged when 13 politicians signed on reportedly the biggest lump sum, over $500,000 will go to Council President Anna Verna. Nutter said he was sending Council legislation to kill DROP.

"The legislation says the bill would become effective immediately upon becoming law."

With six council members in DROP it's not clear how council will respond but city unions are preparing to push back hard against the mayor.

"We're going to fight it absolutely and with the firefighters, Bill Gault with Pete Matthews and District Council 47 and Cathy Scott," said John McNesby, President, Fraternal Order of Police.

In the mayor's word no more studies no more delays now is the time to act. Will council heed those words? Or is this just the start of a long slow political dance. Stay tuned.

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