August 1, 2008

Baldwin Chief Retires With $60,000-a-Year Pension

By Karen Zapf, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Aug. 1--Longtime Baldwin Borough police Chief Chris Kelly retired Thursday with a disability pension that got a boost from a $21,000 raise he received several months ago.

The pay raise approved by council in April bumped Kelly's salary from $94,000 to $115,000, borough Solicitor Stanley Lederman said. Kelly will receive a $60,000-a-year pension based upon half the $115,000 salary plus longevity pay, Lederman said.

Kelly, 54, walks out the door with a Ford sport utility vehicle he drove while chief, the desktop computer from his office and a guaranteed $30,000 over the next three years to work as a consultant.

One councilman said he would have thought twice about the raise if he knew then that Kelly, Baldwin's chief for 20 years, was about to apply for a disability pension. Council approved the pension and other items last week.

"I didn't know he was going to retire," said Councilman John Ferris. "(If I knew) I may have lobbied to get a motion to table it (the pay raise) because of the cost and lack of information. I would have researched it a little deeper and talked with the chief."

The retiring chief will receive an $85,622 payment for unused sick, vacation and personal days, Lederman said. His retirement is the result of a "brain disability," he said.

"He is a police officer with a lot of experience," Lederman said. "He did a good job with the borough. Council accepted his retirement and threw in a couple little things as he went out the door."

Lederman said the vehicle that was signed over to Kelly has about 100,000 miles on it. He added the computer is worth "several hundred dollars."

Kelly could not be reached for comment.

Ferris said though he has concerns about the raise, he admires Kelly and called him "very intelligent" and a "hard-working individual."

The two-page agreement for Kelly's consulting services does not spell out specific duties.

Lederman said that under the terms of the agreement, Kelly will provide consulting services from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011. Lederman said the document calls for Kelly to provide consulting services "when and if he shall be requested to provide the same by council."

Kelly will receive $10,000 each of the three years for consulting work.

Councilman Michael Stelmasczyk said the consulting job is "open-ended."

"He has worked for more than 30 years as a police officer and chief," Stelmasczyk said. "It's good for the community to keep an association with Chief Kelly for at least a few years."

Stelmasczyk said council will form a search committee to find a chief. Sgt. Matthew Kearns, is the officer in charge, the councilman said.

Stelmasczyk said he'd like to see a chief hired by the end of September.


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