- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s pension system pays more than $80,000 in annual benefits to 165 recipients, according to a newspaper’s review.

Forty state pension recipients collect more than $100,000 annually. More than half of those receiving more than $80,000 per year have begun receiving benefits since 2009, The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1ITSaht) reported.

That includes first lady Joanne Tomblin, who retired in June after 15 years as president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The newspaper said she is receiving $111,260 in annual retirement benefits, compared to her annual salary of $166,336 at the college.

The newspaper obtained the information through an open-records request.

West Virginia has nine retirement systems serving more than 140,000 active employees and retirees. They are for public employees, municipal police and firefighters, emergency medical workers, judges, and sheriff’s deputies. Teachers and state police have two retirement systems apiece. Some are closed for enrollment.



In recent years, the pension system has accounted for 10 percent of the state’s budget.

The top benefits recipient is Olen Jones, a former Marshall University provost and president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He paid into the system for 45 years and draws $169,674 annually.

The second-highest paid pension recipient is former public employee Joe Hatfield, who annually collects $136,119.

Each plan is different with enrolled workers contributing varying amounts to their respective funds.

For instance, former state trooper Robert Claus paid into the system for seven years and receives $113,153 in pension benefits annually. Former teacher Gail Hall contributed for 54 years and receives $90,911.

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Online:

List of recipients: https://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/capitolnotebook/

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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