NJ politician quits on day she earned pension

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - November 13, 2010

The Record reported Saturday that Susan Bass Levin officially retired from the state's Local Finance Board on Nov. 1. That was the day she reached 25 years of state government employment, entitling her to early retirement and lifetime health benefits.

State treasury officials told the newspaper that the 58-year-old Levin will start collecting pension checks Dec. 1 for her maximum benefit of $5,312.11. The calculation was based on her three highest-paid years as a state employee - when she headed the Community Affairs Department - for an average $139,774.15.

Levin, a lawyer who also served several years as mayor of Cherry Hill - one of south Jersey's biggest towns - and as deputy commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, did not immediately respond Saturday to a telephone message left at her home.

But in an Oct. 29 message she sent to board officials, notifying them of her plans to step down, the newspaper reported that Levin wrote: "It has been an honor to serve the people of the state. Please extend my appreciation to the staff of the board."

The Local Finance Board, part of the Community Affairs department, oversees municipal and county spending. It was not immediately clear when - or if - a replacement for Levin would be named by Gov. Chris Christie.

Former Gov. Jon Corzine had named Levin to the board, which pays commissioners about $12,000 - plus benefits - to attend 15 to 18 meetings a year. That appointment allowed her to stay within the state's health and pension system.

Levin became Community Affairs commissioner in January 2002 after being appointed by then-Gov. Jim McGreevey. She left in July 2005 to join Corzine's gubernatorial campaign, then returned as commissioner after Corzine's inauguration the following January. Corzine then appointed her to the Port Authority post in May 2007.

Levin left the Port Authority - whose health and retirement systems are separate from those run by the state - last year to become president and chief executive officer of the Cooper Foundation, the fundraising arm of Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

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