The Arkansas Teachers Retirement System is investigating improper retirement pay drawn on top of continuing regular pay by a number of its members.
Until a law change this year, an honor system was in place requiring retired ATRS members to report being rehired for a job covered by ATRS, generally public schools and state colleges. Beyond a certain threshold set by formula, the employees were supposed to have their retirement benefits reduced by $1 for every $2 they made on the job.
Many ATRS members didn't provide notice. George Hopkins, director of the system, is now gathering data from member agencies to compare their payrolls with his membership lists to find unreported double-dipping.
In records received so far from three colleges – UCA, UA-Monticello and Arkansas Tech – he's already found, among others, an employee who owes $111,000 in retirement overpayments.
He's on the trail of a potentially bigger double-dipper at ASU, records indicate. ATRS will recoup improper payments by withholding retirement benefits. Hopkins says names of such recipients are not disclosable under the law.
Hopkins expects to find more and will aggressively seek them. “We have a fiduciary duty to our members who do not owe money to collect all that's owed us because that's how we pay benefits,” he said.
Eastward ho, OA
Warwick Sabin, publisher of the Oxford American, and his four-person business staff are moving next week into space on the third floor of the Central Arkansas Library Systems' Arkansas Studies Institute in the River Market neighborhood.
The OA once had a Little Rock business office that Sabin closed in cost-cutting moves when he took over publishing duties as part of his executive tasks at the University of Central Arkansas. UCA will continue to provide a free home for the magazine's editorial offices.
Sabin this week gave up his public affairs position at UCA to devote full-time to the magazine.
Space in the library is being provided free, said David Stricklin, head of the library's Butler Center. The magazine will provide free advertising for the library in return and also plans some joint literary projects with the library.
Sabin said, by the way, that new UCA President Allen Meadors is a supporter of Oxford American's presence at UCA and was a subscriber to the magazine at his previous job as a college chief in North Carolina.