Harrison police chief says he’s staying, but commissioners still considering his retirement |
Valley News Dispatch

Harrison police chief says he’s staying, but commissioners still considering his retirement

Brian C. Rittmeyer

Longtime Harrison police Chief Mike Klein says he’s in good health and has no plans to retire any time soon.

“I completed my annual physical on Monday,” Klein, 60, said Thursday. “I got another 10 years in me.”

Klein said he’s no longer considering retirement about a month after commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on an agreement that would have seen him retire in four years.

Commissioners President Bill Heasley, however, says commissioners still are discussing a retirement plan or package for Klein.

A Harrison native, Klein has been a township police officer for 35 years, and has been chief for 25 years. He said he could have retired more than five years ago.

“Mike has certainly done an admirable job,” Heasley said. “The board is trying to look at options and come up with an amicable agreement between the parties.”

Heasley would not discuss specifics, calling it a personnel issue. He voted in favor of the agreement in May.

Klein has not had a contract during his tenure as police chief. His current annual salary is about $96,000.

Klein said the discussions started after two other agencies inquired about his availability for another job. Harrison wanted to keep him and to come up with a succession plan for his eventual departure.

“He’s basically looking at a long-term retirement plan,” Heasley said. “He came up with a suggestion. We’re looking at it.”

In May, commissioners voted 2-2, with Gary Lilly absent, on a four-year contract that would have given yearly pay increases of 2 percent, 1.5 percent, 1 percent and 0.5 percent. It was not approved because of the tie vote.

Commissioner Chuck Dizard also said commissioners still are discussing an agreement with Klein.

“The board is looking at the cost of what the chief had proposed and the board is looking at doing something,” he said. “The board appreciates his interest in having a retirement package, so it’s under consideration.”

Dizard said he voted against the agreement because he had not seen it before being asked to vote on it. When they voted, Commissioner Robin Bergstrom said she voted no because she had not seen the final draft of the agreement.

“I can’t do business that way,” Dizard said.

Klein said he doesn’t know what would happen should commissioners come to him with a proposed agreement. He said work is his hobby, and he likes what he’s doing.

“I’m not looking to start another career at age 60,” he said. “You start another career, you need a minimum of 12 years to be eligible for any retirement benefits.”

Klein is not the only longtime township employee officials are preparing to lose.

Commissioners have approved hiring a recruiter to find a township manager, which Harrison currently does not have. Commissioners are anticipating the retirement of longtime township Secretary Faith Payne, who has been with the township for more than 40 years.

Like Klein, Payne says she has no current plans to retire.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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