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Nora v. Board of Trustees of Public Employees' Retirement System

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

September 4, 2013

ROBERT A. NORA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM, Defendant-Respondent.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued telephonically Date: April 23, 2013

On appeal from the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees' Retirement System, Department of Treasury, PERS No. 10-169018.

Samuel J. Halpern argued the cause for appellant.

Eileen S. Den Bleyker, Senior Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Ms. Den Bleyker, on the brief).

Before Judges Lihotz and Ostrer.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiff appeals from the January 23, 2012, final decision by the Board of Trustees (Board) of the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) that his pensionable annual salary from the City of Elizabeth (City) was $20, 800, which was his contracted salary as a part-time employee (at 16 hours per week, $25 per hour), and the amount on which pension contributions were made. Plaintiff contends that his pensionable salary should be based upon his actual earnings from the City, which exceeded his contracted rate. We affirm.

I.

In August 1985, plaintiff was hired by the City as a building sub-code official. The request for personnel action form, signed by plaintiff, reflects that he would be paid $25 per hour for 16 hours of work per week. Plaintiff was later enrolled in PERS based upon his employment with the City, as well as North Brunswick, Highland Park, and Milltown.

Plaintiff worked for the City between August 1985 and January 1991. The record reflects that he generally worked more than the contracted number of hours, and earned more than the contracted salary. His paystubs reflect the following:

Date of Paystub

Earnings to Date

December 26, 1985

$5, 450

December 24, 1986

$28, 275

December 31, 1987

$35, 700

December 29, 1988

$39, 000

December 28, 1989

$38, 725

December 27, 1990

$37, 750

In March 2000, plaintiff, who had continued service within the pension system, applied for retirement and requested a service retirement under the maximum option, to be effective August 1, 2000. The Division of Pension and Benefits (Division) received his application on April 7, 2000.

After submitting his application, plaintiff learned that the City had been reporting his pensionable earnings as $20, 800 per year, as opposed to his actual earnings. Plaintiff first complained to the City. On April 26, 2000, Suzanne Veitengruber, the Director of Finance for the Township of North Brunswick, wrote to Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage, on plaintiff's behalf, inquiring about the discrepancy between the earnings reported on plaintiff's W-2s and the salary the City reported for pension purposes.

Philip Connelly, the City's Business Administrator, replied to Veitengruber that when plaintiff was employed "his pension base was based on his annual salary which at that time was projected to be $20, 800 per year." Connelly stated that plaintiff's overtime earnings, which were not pensionable, ...


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