Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Police allot
10 minutes
for escort drills

Question: On Tuesday, Nov. 9, the Honolulu Police Department closed Meheula Parkway in Mililani at 11:30 a.m. After waiting about 15 minutes, one single, red car came through escorted by 18 motorcycle police. I counted. Who or what required shutting down a busy street and taking 18 officers away from their usual jobs?

Answer: A future visiting dignitary.

The officers were taking part in "dignitary escort training," according to Lt. Ron Bode of the Honolulu Police Department's Solo Bike Section.

The motorcycle officers have gone through such an exercise several times before, he said. In the past, Waialae Avenue also has been used as a training route.

However, Bode said the road should not have been shut down for more than 10 minutes. Usually, traffic is stopped for about eight to nine minutes, he said, as officials try to minimize the impact of the exercise.

Q: This year, I worked as a temporary casual employee for the State of Hawaii. For employees in this category, there is no Social Security withholding. Instead, these funds are put into a kind of escrow account with a private firm. At the end of the employment, the employee fills out a form, and we are supposed to be issued a check for the amount taken from our pay, less federal/ state withholding taxes. Why does it take 60-90 days to get this money back? Aren't they using my money for free?

A: Apparently, it's not that simple.

"Within 60 days" is just the average time it takes to document and verify the employment termination, according to Jan Kemp, deputy director of the state Department of Human Resources Development.

But she assures you that employees -- not the state -- continue to benefit from the withheld money.

Instead of having Social Security withholding, about 7.5 percent of your gross pay was deducted each pay period and put into the "Part-time Temporary and Seasonal Casual Employees Deferred Compensation Plan," Kemp explained.

It is a state plan but has a third-party administrator, as well as a subcontractor who does the record-keeping, and another subcontractor who handles the day-to-day administration of the plan, she said.

When employees leave, they are asked to file a "Separation from Service" form. Comprehensive Financial Planning will verify the end of employment and that the paperwork is completed.

"This usually takes a two-pay-period time," Kemp said, which means within 60 days of filing the form or 60 days from your last paycheck.

During the period of verification, "the employee's contribution continues to earn interest," she said. "So the participant's account is still earning interest. It's working for him."

If your account is greater than $3,500, you can opt for a lump sum payment or an annual installment not to exceed five years.

If you still have questions, call Comprehensive Financial Planning at 596-7006.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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