The Plymouth County Retirement Board is suing the State, the County Commissioners and the Register of Deeds for $1.9 million, an amount they claim is owed them to pay the benefits of the Sheriff’s retired employees. Two years ago the Sheriff’s department was transferred from County to State control. And even though the State said the takeover would be revenue neutral they did not take responsibility for the benefits of the Sheriff’s retired employees.
To compensate for that, the State allowed a portion of the revenue from the Registry of Deeds to be used for their retirement benefits. But, Bill Farmer who directs the Plymouth County Retirement Association, and recommended the suit, says there’s a problem with that: “The problem is that State has not paid a hundred percent of the money. They’ve withheld what they believe the County owes the State.” And what the State believes the County owes them is payment of what is called Maintenance of Effort, or MOE.
Dan Pallotta formerly chaired the County Advisory Board, the group of County selectmen who set the budget: “In 2005 the State forced us to pay the MOE under threat of not allowing our budget to be accepted by the State. When I was chairman of the Advisory Board we put a stop to it and stopped paying it because we don’t owe it. We never owed it and as a matter of fact the State owes us three or four years worth of payments and I look forward to getting that back.” As it stands now, the matter will be settled by the courts.