Interesting story about 1,700 school employees retiring tomorrow to take advantage of a base pay boost that is about to disappear.
In a typical year, fewer than 300 of the state’s educators retire Dec. 1, while the school year is in full swing.
But this year, 1,707 educators across the state have opted to retire now. This includes 123 employees — including 63 teachers, four counselors, seven paraprofessionals, two assistant principals and two principals — in Gwinnett County, the state’s largest school district.
They’re heading out the door just in time to claim a one-time 3 percent increase in their base for yearly pension benefits that’s been given to new retirees for more than 20 years and is being discontinued in January.
The bump in benefits — capped at 3 percent of $37,500, or an extra $1,125 — was established after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that Georgia could not exempt the pensions of state employees from state income tax while taxing the pensions of federal government workers.
In recent years, Georgia also has ratcheted up a state income tax exclusion for all retirees — government and nongovernment — so that $35,000 is now exempt for retirees between ages 62 and 65, $65,000 for those 65 and older, said Jeff Ezell, executive director of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia.
The TRS board decided months ago that the 3 percent adjustment was no longer necessary, Ezell said.
Allowing it to continue would mean state retirees would be “getting a double benefit,” he said.
The state is moving in a similar direction for other state employees.
In most metro school systems, officials said they’ll deal with the departures as smoothly as possible.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog