Share This Page

Former Greensburg Salem school administrators appeal pension trims of $400

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Two former Greensburg Salem administrators whose compensation was spiked to boost their pensions are fighting to retain nearly $400 that was cut from the more than $18,000 they receive in monthly pension checks.

Former Superintendent Tom Yarabinetz and Business Manager Tom Ferraro have appealed decisions that trimmed their checks by a combined $397.46, according to the state Public School Employees' Retirement System.

In May, the state pension agency backed an earlier decision to cut the retirement checks of Yarabinetz, Ferraro and former District Principal Lee Kirchner. The state auditor general's office determined last year that ineligible income was added to the three men's salaries, spiking their pension checks.

Kirchner has not appealed that decision, pension agency spokeswoman Evelyn Tatkovski Williams said on Wednesday.

Current administrators told state auditors that former, unnamed senior administrators ordered subordinates to report the ineligible income, even though the employees advised them that doing so was against state pension regulations, according to a state auditor general's office report.

The current administration has not identified the top administrators who allegedly gave the order.

In the recent decision, the retirement system's executive committee agreed that unused sick days for all three men and health insurance compensation for Yarabinetz should not have been considered as salary for pension purposes.

Yarabinetz's monthly check was trimmed from $11,246.82 to $11,028.28. Ferraro's monthly check was cut $178.92, from $7,135.09 to $6,956.17.

Kirchner's check dropped from $5,981.25 to $5,719.20 .

Greensburg attorney Dennis Rafferty, who represents Yarabinetz and Ferraro, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Auditors determined that six former administrators had nearly $141,000 in ineligible income used to calculate pension payments. Three of the retirees did not challenge the reductions.

Auditors examined the pension accounts after getting tips of possible problems, state and school officials said.

School board President Ron Mellinger did not address the appeals on Wednesday but said the pension problems tarnished the district's image, which he and other directors are working to repair.

“It was a black eye to the district, and as I stated when I took office, we're trying to be a more transparent district,” Mellinger said.

The district has taken steps to avoid a similar problem by having more school officials oversee retirement accounts, he added.

A hearing date for the appeals has not been scheduled, Williams said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.