West Chester trustees approve police chief retire/rehire

One West Chester Twp. trustee voted no on the retire/rehire of the police chief “on principle,” but two other trustees approved, so the chief will retire and come back to work Nov. 1.

Officials said the move will save taxpayers about $25,000 per year.

West Chester Twp. Police Chief Joel Herzog, 48, has been with the township more than 25 years.

Herzog currently earns $114,127 annually. His new salary would be $102,715 effective Nov. 1. Trustee Lee Wong was the lone naysayer because he opposes the practice — on principle.

“I am not in favor of retire/rehire because there is no guarantee that Chief Herzog is going to stay for a long time here…,” he said. “If the chief is gone and three-quarters of our sergeants and lieutenants retire, I’m concerned about the continuity of our leadership here.”

Herzog’s official retirement date is Oct.31, and he is signing a new five-year contract with the township.

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“It’s a program where everybody wins,” Herzog told the Journal-News of the retire/rehire classification offered through the Public Employees Retirement System. “I’m just looking to secure a future for my family as I continue on the twilight of my career. This is a program where the township saves money, the retirement system saves money and the employee is able to take advantage of those savings by retiring and coming back at a lower rate.”

Trustee George Lang said he is very much in favor of the retire/rehire program. He said the chief will take a 10 percent pay cut and his benefits will also be reduced because he will now be considered a new employee.

Together, the savings to taxpayers will be about $25,000 a year, according to trustees.

The township will also retain an employee who has institutional knowledge of the department, according to Lang.

“The bottom line is Chief Herzog contains a tremendous amount of intellectual capital and in the business world, intellectual capital is virtually priceless,” he said. “This gives us a chance to transition in a way that everybody wins, including Chief Herzog.”

Lang said the township will save about $18,000 for salary and benefits and $8,400 on accrued leave pay.

Trustee Board President Mark Welch concurred with Lang even though he said he once shared Wong’s feelings on retire/rehire.

“I did campaign on no retire/rehire, but I like to think I’m a guy of logic,” he said. “And I like to separate the fact from the fiction… The agreement says he’s going to work for another five years, but Chief Herzog is so young, fit and good looking who knows, he may stay another five years beyond that, and we’d love to have him because we want to have that intellectual property.”

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