LANSING — After nearly two years, a decision has been rendered regarding pension violations of a former Marion Public Schools superintendent and the current Marion Central Office secretary.

On Friday, Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget Communications Specialist Christyn Herman said the proposal for decision for the cases of Mort Meier and Diana Salisbury was presented recently to the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board.

Regarding Meier’s case, Herman said the board adopted the proposal for decision, which affirmed the “aggregation of wages and application of the retiree earnings limit as provided in MCL 38.1361.‘ As for Salisbury’s case, Herman said the board rejected the proposal for a decision concerning the bona fide termination issue and remanded the case back to the Michigan Office of Retirement Services to review her “aggregate wages against the earnings limit as provided in MCL 38.1361.‘

Both, however, will now have to pay back money to the retirement system, according to Herman. Herman also said the board’s decision means Salisbury is treated as having a bona fide termination and apply the earnings limit rules based on her aggregated wages. She also said aggregate wages are any wages earned in MPSERS across positions and both Meier and Salisbury held two positions.

The Michigan Office of Retirement Services originally said Meier owes nearly $80,000 and Salisbury owes nearly $70,000 in pension repayments. The repayments in Meier’s case are related to him earning more than the limit allowed when drawing his pension, and he must repay either his excess earnings or his annual pension, whichever is less, from 2014 to 2017.

Although Meier’s issue had to do with excess earnings, Salisbury’s pension problem was regarding her bona fide termination of employment, or lack of one, according to the ORS.

After weeks of accusations in spring 2018 of pension violations from the Michigan Office of Retirement Services, the district and Meier agreed to his retirement and separation from the district effective July 1. Current Marion Superintendent and Elementary Principal Chris Arrington was hired after an expedited search process during summer 2018. Salisbury remained in her position.

On March 29, 2018, both Meier and Salisbury were sent a letter regarding their “post-retirement engagement‘ by the district. The Cadillac News received the letters after a Freedom of Information Act request was sent to the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the agency under which the ORS operates.

In a joint statement in 2018 by both Meier and Salisbury about the pension violation, the two said: “The allegations are baseless and we are confident the ORS will ultimately determine that we are compliant with the statute and entitled to our full pensions.‘

Cadillac News