NO MATTER WHO WINS OCEAN CO. ELECTION, TAXPAYERS WILL LOSE Report by Mark Lagerkvist
TOMS RIVER— No matter who wins next month’s election, the sheriff of Ocean County still will be a double-dipper — and possibly a millionaire.
Since 1986, Sheriff William Polhemus has pocketed $929,793 in pension pay in addition to his salary. He currently receives $165,941 a year — $122,669 in salary plus a $43,272 pension as a retired Seaside Heights police chief.
At age 84, Polhemus is the Republican nominee running for a 10th term. If he wins, he’ll become a full-fledged, double-dipping pension millionaire.
His opponents, independent John D. McMenamin and Democrat George “Bob” Armstrong, also draw pensions as retired law enforcement officers.
If McMenamin wins, his take from the public trough would go up to $213,067 a year.
McMenamin receives a $90,398 a year tax-free disability pension. As a Stafford Township police lieutenant, McMenamin was injured in a 2006 on-duty accident involving an all-terrain vehicle.
While the state considers him to be “totally and permanently disabled,” McMenamin contends his disability would not impair his ability to serve as sheriff.
Armstrong gets a modest state pension of $7,836 a year from his five years of service as investigator for the State Commission of Investigations and the Division of Criminal Justice.
In addition, Armstrong receives a federal pension as a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. Federal benefits paid to pensioners are not considered public record.
Ocean County is not alone in its double-dipping dilemma.
A New Jersey Watchdog investigation found that 17 county sheriffs and 34 undersheriffs collectively receive $9.1 million a year — $3.7 million in retirement pay plus $5.4 million in salaries — using loopholes ignored by Gov. Chris Christie’s pension reforms.
Overall, the “Double-Dippers Club” includes sheriffs and undersheriffs from 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties. On average, each collects roughly $179,000 a year — $102,000 in salary and $72,000 from law enforcement pensions.