Council refuses to consider pension for Myers

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Without discussion, the Bartholomew County Council refused to approve a recommendation that would have provided Sheriff Matt Myers a county pension immediately after his second term concludes.

The recommendation from the Sheriff’s Merit Board would have changed the vesting period for a sheriff to receive a pension back to eight years.  During the administration of former sheriff Kenny Whipker (1999-2006), the amount of time was extended to eight years and one month, former sheriff and now county council member Mark Gorbett said.  Gorbett served as Whipker’s chief deputy.

“If I had to do it all again, I would have made it 10 years or more,” said Whipker, who now works for the Indiana Department of Correction. “I wanted that pension for people who made the sheriff’s office a career, not for someone who works four or eight years who may collect a pension that provides them more money than a 20-year deputy when they retire.”

While addressing the council, Columbus attorney Jeff Beck, who represents Myers, claimed the additional month was added because the Sheriff’s Merit Board did not want someone who wasn’t already a local deputy to seek the office.

“This is the most blatant abuse of the ‘Old Boys’ network that I’ve seen in my 24 years of practice,” Beck said. “It isn’t right, and the public deserves better from its elected officials.”

Beck also described pushback from council members against Myers about the pension issue.

“Some of you called (Myers) selfish and greedy for trying to get the pension vesting issue changed,” Beck said. “This is not about Matt Myers. This is about getting rid of a rule that was specifically put in place so that only sheriff deputies would run.”

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.