News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 19, 2013

Committee approves change to merit deputy retirement program

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Vigo County Council committee on Thursday approved an extension for a deferred retirement option plan for Vigo County’s merit deputies.

Sheriff Greg Ewing said the Sheriff’s Merit Board last November voted to increase the program from four years to five years. The program also requires the approval of the full Vigo County Council.

“Once a deputy signs up, you cannot back out of the program. It freezes their pension at that point and then creates a separate account,” Ewing said.

A retiring officer receives a lump sum distribution, from the money in the separate account, and then the officer receives a retirement based on the rate at which time he or she entered the program.

To be eligible, a merit deputy must be at least 52 years old. A lump sum is calculated on years of service. The sheriff’s pension plan has a 32-year maximum, with additional years of service receiving no increases, said Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi.

“It is largely done as an economic planning tool for retirement,” Seprodi told the council committee.

Ewing said some participants have used the lump sum to pay for medical insurance until they are eligible for Medicare. The sheriff said payments vary, with some as much as $20,000 as in a lump sum.

In addition, Ewing said the sheriff’s department can plan replacements for officers in the program,  as they will know an exact date when an officer will leave the department.

Vigo County has 37 merit deputies, plus the county sheriff and chief deputy sheriff.

In 2012, the county paid $315,000 for pensions to deputies out of the county general fund. In addition, $253,105 from the process of warrant fees went into the department’s pension fund and $18,281 in employee contributions.

The county’s portion this year is also $315,000, but comes from the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax. The county is funding all public safety departments from that fund.

The measure next goes before the full Vigo County Council at its May 21 meeting.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or