Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, January 8, 1999

State set to
pay teachers back
retirement benefits

When will the State of Hawaii Employees Retirement System pay teachers for back benefits due, because their pension was based on a 10-month instead of 12-month work year?

The first payments will be sent out Jan. 15, according to ERS administrator David Shimabukuro.

More than 4,000 retired principals and teachers will share in roughly $2.8 million in retroactive payments. There will be a lump-sum payment first, then an increase in the regular pension check, Shimabukuro said.

Some background: Two lawsuits were filed over the matter -- by retired principals about 12 years ago and by retired teachers about eight years ago.

Last year, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that "the ERS should include (the retirees') summer pay in the computation of their average final compensation," Shimabukuro said.

It's been a time-consuming and painstaking task to check records on microfiche going back to 1970, he said. He calculated the ERS staff has put in over 10,000 hours to recompute the benefits of the retired teachers and principals.

The total retroactive payment is roughly $3.8 million, he said. However, about $1 million will go toward attorney fees.

About 1,000 retroactive payments will be made each month until all payments are made. Shimabukuro said he couldn't give an average payment figure because payments vary, depending on when a person retired, what retirement option was taken, etc.

Also receiving payments will be beneficiaries of some deceased ERS members, he said.


The city is talking about increasing golf fees at public courses by $1. I feel that's OK. But in all fairness, I would like to see user fees at all city facilities, for example, at tennis courts. Tennis players don't pay any user fees at all. How about looking into that?

The city is in the process of assessing various options to deal with a projected $130 million shortfall so "it's premature" to talk about specifics, said Carol Costa, director of the city's newly named Department of Customer Service.

Various committees, including a blue ribbon advisory committee, are "looking at every possible alternative, everything from tennis to all our recreational facilities," she said.

The idea of charging user fees for tennis courts has been looked at over the years, Costa said, but the problem is collecting the fees.

"That is not as easy to do as it is at a golf course, where you have staff while the facility is open," she said. By comparison, tennis courts are available virtually all hours of the day and night, she said.

It might end up costing more to pay for an attendant collecting money than what's collected from tennis players, she said.



To the driver of a white business pickup truck dangerously tailgating me as he came out of the Mililani on-ramp to Wahiawa on Dec. 15. Learn to be more considerate of other drivers! -- No name



To all the people who stopped to help and comfort us when my husband fell on Bethel Street on Dec. 4, especially RN Sharon Shores, a teacher at Hawaii Business College, who stayed with us until the ambulance arrived. Her exceptional concern and reassurances were a tremendous moral support to two seniors and greatly appreciated. -- M.L.P.



To people who steal my potted plants and cut my flowers when I'm not home. I spend a lot of time taking care of my yard in Kaimuki. Please stop. -- A.T.

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