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Holmes Beach employees work in DROP

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

While Holmes Beach treasurer Rick Ashley will be the next city employee to leave under a state program that incentivizes planned retirements, he likely won’t be the last.

        Ashley is expected to retire from 38 years of public employment Aug. 31. Approximately 14 of those years were as city treasurer. He entered the Florida Retirement System Deferred Retirement Option Plan in September 2007.

        The program incentivizes retirement of public employees in the state who reach 25 years of service or retirement age.

        Those who elect to enter the program are considered retired, although still on the job and collecting a salary. Their monthly retirement benefits accumulate in a FRS trust fund, earning tax deferred interest up to 60 months, according to the FRS website.

        Employees in the DROP program must leave by the last day of the 60-month deferment or lose the accumulated contributions, Ashley said.

        “What it allows the city are all positives,” he said. “How many cities have their city treasurers looking to train their replacement?

        “The planning and ability to budget, that’s a very positive thing about the DROP program,” Ashley said.

        Also in the city’s DROP program with expected — but not mandatory — retirement dates are the following employees:

        • Public works superintendent Joe Duennes, Feb. 28, 2014. • Holmes Beach Police Lt. Dale Stephenson, July 31, 2016.

        • Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine, July 31, 2016.

        • Holmes Beach Police Officer Rob Velardi, March 31, 2017.

        Part-time public works employee Steve Beck also was in the DROP program until recently, according to Ashley. However, it appears Beck won’t be reaching his DROP date, as he gave notice for a July employment termination date, said Ashley.

        Duennes has held his city position 15 years, and became eligible by virtue of retirement age, he said. Velardi, Stephenson and Romine have been with the HBPD for 25 years.

        Duennes supervises the building department, code enforcement and public works. He entered the DROP program March 1, 2009. Stephenson and Romine entered the program Aug. 1, 2011.

        “There’s no preparation for any of these positions at this time,” said Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. “They may leave then, and they may leave tomorrow. It’s their personal lives, and they don’t tell me about that.”

        In six to eight months, Bohnenberger said, the city may start to search for a police chief to succeed Romine.

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