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Tue August 30, 2011
Smaller pension checks on the way to Central Falls retirees
By CATHERINE WELCH
PROVIDENCE, RI – When Central Falls receiver Robert Flanders Jr. rolled out proposed cuts to police and fire retirees back in July, he warned that a haircut looked a lot better than a beheading. Now Flanders is backing up that statement by taking more out of retirement checks than first expected.
Flanders says the costs of bankruptcy has forced him to chop many pension check by more than half, though he will re-evaluate cuts that cause hardship and will set up free health insurance for retirees over 65-years-old.
State Senator Elisabeth Crowley represents Central Falls and says Flanders failed to give retirees enough time to make an educated decision on the cuts he proposed just weeks before filing for bankruptcy on August 1st. And she says Flanders is hurting elderly retirees who opted out of Social Security and have no additional income.
"It's easy when we're making more money like judge Flanders is currently making," says Crowley. "So a haircut's one thing, but making them bald is quite another."
Flanders says he's taking a closer look at the 74 retired police and firefighters who took disability retirements. It raised flags for him that two-thirds of them retired on disabilities due to stress related issues. He says that number raises questions about, "whether that is appropriate and whether there ought to be some mechanism to actually determine whether in fact that disability exists in the case of particularly young retirees who are working elsewhere and fully able to work at other jobs," Flanders says.
Central Falls started the fiscal year more than $5 million in the red. Retirees will see the deeper cuts in checks that arrive Thursday and Friday.
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