State wants Kirkland to pay $60,000 in pension reimbursement - Seattle Times

According to an article this week in the Seattle Times, the City of Kirkland has been asked to reimburse the State of Washington $60,000 because Kirkland hired Pamela Bissonnette, a retired employee who collected both her state pension and a $12,500 a month salary as Kirkland's interim Public Works Director. The Times states, "Pamela Bissonnette had retired from King County in 2007. She was hired by Kirkland in January 2013 as a contractor. According to Department of Retirement Systems (DRS), Kirkland did not report Bissonnette as a retiree returning to work."

As far as Kirkland is concerned, Bissonnette is a private contractor. The DRS thinks otherwise. The issue at hand revolves around how the position of private contractor is defined. The state says contractors don't manage, make policies or have offices and hours. The Times article points out that as far as Kirkland is concerned, they can.

We asked the City of Kirkland if they had a statement they could share and they responded with the following:

The City has not received formal correspondence from the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) regarding the status of Kirkland’s Interim Public Works Director. When we do, we will thoroughly evaluate DRS’s decision and respond appropriately.

The City has made contact with DRS to better understand the agency’s position that Ms. Bissonnette is not an independent contractor. The City drafted her contract to be in compliance with what we understood to be DRS’s rules.

In the meantime, Ms. Bissonnette will continue her role as Interim Public Works Director as the City completes its recruitment for a permanent hire.
— City of Kirkland

To read the rest of the Seattle Times article by Nancy Bartley, click here.