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Harmar trades $20K for retiring police officer's pension

| Sunday, June 29, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

Harmar is paying a retiring police officer $20,000, a decision that prompted one of the township's five supervisors to vote against the deal.

Supervisors on June 19 voted, 4-1, to approve a separation and release agreement with Officer John Wayne Uhring. The township later released a copy of the agreement in response to a Right-To-Know request by the Valley News Dispatch.

According to the agreement, the $20,000 payment was given “in full and final settlement of any and all disputed and/or potential claims relating to Uhring's employment and separation from employment.”

The benefits given to Uhring included enrollment in a health care program. That section of the agreement was redacted by the township.

Through police Chief Jason Domaratz, Uhring declined to be interviewed about the agreement.

Uhring had been off duty for more than a year; he had last worked in April 2013, Domaratz said. Supervisor Bob Exler said Uhring is in poor health and could not return to work.

Supervisor Linda Slomer voted against the agreement between the township and Uhring.

“I thought that was a dangerous precedent to set. I was opposed to it,” Slomer said. “I don't know if I'm at liberty to say any more than that. It's something we shouldn't have done.”

Exler said the agreement was crafted because, while Uhring, 67, meets the age requirement, he is about nine years short of the 25 years of service required to collect a full pension.

“He started late in life,” Exler said.

Rather than Uhring having to wait to collect his pension, and the township then being liable for it, the township paid him $20,000 and Uhring withdrew his pension contributions, which total about $20,000 more, Exler said.

Who the deal works out best for, the township or Uhring, depends on how long Uhring lives into his retirement.

Eventually, his pension would have cost the township more than the $20,000, Exler said.

“It's to our benefit to give him what we gave him, if he lives longer. If he doesn't live as long, it's to his benefit to take this,” Exler said. “It's a coin flip. If Wayne lives into his 80s, he would've made out by not taking the deal.

“This was the best thing for us in the long run. Wayne felt this was the best thing for him in the short run.”

Exler said he, supervisors Chairwoman Pat Janoski and Domaratz wanted to help Uhring.

“Wayne's a good person. We tried to do right by him and us,” Exler said. “I thought it was a win-win for both of us.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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