Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Schmidt Will Get $1 Million Pension

Acting Sheriff doesn’t deny it, refuses to say whether he will sign waiver of backdrop benefit.

By - Aug 2nd, 2018 10:38 pm
Richard Schmidt. Photo from Milwaukee County.

Richard Schmidt. Photo from Milwaukee County.

Yesterday, I reported that Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt was likely to get a county backdrop payment of somewhere between $596,000 and $834,000, depending on the details of his employment. Because I lacked the full information, I noted this was a crude estimate, but there was no doubt Schmidt would get a very generous payment, which is surely of interest to voters deciding whether to support him.  

I’ve since been able to get Schmidt’s date of birth and annual salary for the years 2006 through 2009 from Milwaukee County, which answered my public information request by yesterday afternoon. So I was able to do a more precise estimate of the lump sum backdrop payment Schmidt is eligible to receive: $1,015,122

That would be one of the highest backdrop payments in county history.

Schmidt had not responded to my phone calls and emails asking him for information, but yesterday I was able to obtain his cell phone number, I called him to say I was writing about his pension. He said he had no time to talk now and quickly hung up. 

About an hour later I called again and quickly told him my estimate that he was eligible for a $1 million backdrop when he retired. 

Said Schmidt: “I have no intention of retiring.” 

“So are you willing to sign a waiver of the backdrop benefit?”  I asked. 

“I have no intention of retiring,” Schmidt repeated. “I’m willing to keep working for the citizens of Milwaukee County.”

“But will you sign a waiver of the backdrop benefit,” I repeated. 

“I have given you my answer,” Schmidt said. “I have nothing more to say. Now I’m about to go on a radio show and that’s all I have to say.”

At no point did Schmidt deny the $1 million figure or suggest I was wrong. And if he intends to never retire and therefore never claim the backdrop benefit, why not sign a waiver of it? 

Under the county’s Rule of 75, Schmidt is eligible to retire when the sum total of his age and years of service equal 75. He would have been eligible by at least February 2009, when he turned 53 and had worked 22.5 years, meaning he could claim a backdrop starting at that point. By December 2022, should he win and serve a term as Sheriff, Schmidt would then be eligible to claim at least 13 years of pension owed him compounded by the county’s assumed rate of interest earned by its pension fund, which is currently 7.75 percent. 

Schmidt had worked 22.5 years by February 2009, and would get 2 percent service credit for each year worked, meaning he would get 45 percent of his final average salary of about $99,000, or $44,550 per year for 13 years at 7.75 interest. That comes to a total of $1,015,122. 

In addition to this, Schmidt would also receive a lifetime monthly pension totaling $44,550 per year.

As my earlier story noted, the county pension is quite complicated and there are some factors that might increase his pension beyond what I’ve computed, but as a ballpark estimate this is close to and probably less than what Schmidt could claim. If Schmidt is unwilling to sign a waiver of the benefit, this is one voter who would consider him disqualified for office.

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

One thought on “Murphy’s Law: Schmidt Will Get $1 Million Pension”

  1. jason310 says:

    I get that the backdrop was certainly a bone-headed and outrageous benefit. But why would you expect someone who has been promised that benefit and worked for it for decades to unilaterally give up what they are owed? Should all County employees voluntarily renounce their pay or just those who seek elected office?

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