Cipriano Denies He Got Special Pension Deal

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

 

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Victor Cipriano—the retired Johnston fire chief turned mayoral candidate—adamantly denies that he is getting a special pension deal and claims that his benefits are the same as what rank-and-file union firefighters make when they retire.

“I get no more or no less than everybody else that put their time in,” said Cipriano, who retired in 2005 after 29 years with the department.

But that claim is contradicted by town records which show that he got special perks, like a 3 percent raise in the first year of his retirement, an additional monthly $250 disability benefit, and free health insurance. As a result, Cipriano (pictured left) is now making $83,381.82, about $10,000 more than what his salary was in his final year as fire chief.

Current Mayor ‘Outraged’ Over Deal

Current Mayor Joseph Polisena (pictured right) said he was outraged when he first found out how much Cipriano was making. “I was surprised that it was that much,” Polisena said. “I was outraged for the taxpayers.”

Polisena said the deal is “not lawful” since it was never approved by the town council, as required by the town charter. Instead, Cipriano’s benefits were hashed out as a private agreement with Polisena’s predecessor, William Macera. “Maybe that’s a technicality. I don’t know—who knows?” Cipriano said when asked about the arrangement.

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  Mayor Ends Private Pension Deals

Polisena said ending private pension deals was one of his first orders of business when he became mayor in 2007. He found out about the deals when a retiring police officer asked him for a private pension deal a few months after he took office. “I said, ‘I don’t do business that way,’” Polisena recalled. “It would be prohibitive to taxpayers if we did private deals with everyone.”

Not only are such deals costly to taxpayers, but they are unfair to other retirees, Polisena said. He should know, because he is a former battalion chief in the Johnston Fire Department. In 1996, Polisena retired with a regular pension, which amounted to about $39,000 this year. “There was no special pension deal I received,” Polisena said.

He said the town has decided it will go after the retirees who received the private pension deals in an attempt to recover some of the extra money they were paid. He declined to discuss details, because it involves possible litigation. “All I’m trying to do is get the spending under control and do the right thing,” Polisena said.

Click here to view a timeline showing how Cipriano struck a private pension deal with former Mayor William Macera.

 
 

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