I wrote last week about a state agency director double dip: Artee Williams, director of Workforce Services, is en route to both a retirement check and his state agency pay in a few days.
This prompted a call that I inquire about another state employee soon to rack up two paychecks while on duty. David Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Legislative Research, confirms that Estella Smith, who had been administrator of legislative committee staff, retired June 30 at the end of her seven-year participation in the Deferred Retirement Option Program and will be returning to work in her same job Aug. 1. She was making $96,489 when she retired. She'll be rehired at the bottom of the pay grade for the job, as Ferguson would have had to do had someone else been chosen. That pay is $92,515. Smith has worked for the legislature since 1978, but had worked for some time before that for the state Highway and Transportation Department. She's among those grandfathered in a 2009 law that extended required retirement periods for state employes from 30 days to 180 days before they could be rehired. Those grandfathered were all enrolled in DROP programs.
"I'm pleased she's coming back," Ferguson said. He said the position was advertised in June among legislative staff and others applied, but Smith was judged best qualified for the job. "We got real good reviews from all the people under her," he said. "We appreciated what she'd done."
This is legal, as was the Artee Williams' double-dip. Williams' move — defended by Gov. Mike Beebe, who intends to reappoint Williams to his post — has been criticized in recent days by the Arkansas Republican Party, which made double-dipping one of its key legislative issues. Fair enough. Please note for the record, though, that Smith's last committee assignment was with the Joint Public Retirement and Social Security Programs Committee. Chairs are Sen. Johnny Key and Rep. Les Carnine, both Republicans.