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Committee will look at pension, health benefits for Watertown Trust employees

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Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham has set up a three-member committee to make sure two Watertown Local Development Corp. employees have a retirement package and health benefits.

During a special meeting Thursday morning, Mr. Graham, who also is the WLDC’s chairman, appointed Erika F. Flint, Jeffrey T. Fallon and Mark S. Bellinger to the three-member committee to look at what needs to be done for the two employees.

The WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, has an Aug. 1 deadline to get those issues resolved as a result of last week’s passage of the pension restoration bill by the state Legislature for those workers and 10 others associated with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

“We have to keep the agency going and be fair to the two employees,” Mr. Graham said.

Committee members will figure out a health benefits plan, a private retirement program and the hiring of a company to handle payroll for CEO Donald W. Rutherford and executive assistant Kim Taylor, Mr. Graham said.

A special meeting has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 6 for committee members to come back with information about what they found out, Mr. Graham said. He said the Watertown Trust has a little more time to work on the pension issue.

On Thursday, the WLDC board also met in executive session to discuss the pension issue with Richard L. Smith, the Syracuse attorney it hired to represent the corporation after state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli revoked the workers’ pensions in February.

The 12 employees were put in financial limbo when the comptroller concluded they should not have received pension credits in the years they had worked for JCIDA sub-agencies.

The dispute revolved around whether the employees worked directly for JCIDA or for nonprofit organizations called local development corporations.

The 10 other employees work for the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corp., Jefferson County Job Development Corp., Carthage Industrial Development Corp. and Watertown Industrial Center Local Development Corp.

The other LDCs will have to deal with the same retirement, health benefits and payroll issues.

Under the legislation, all 12 employees will be able to collect on their accrued state retirement benefits through the end of July.

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