Panama Metropolis Seaside adjustments police and hearth retirement plans
PANAMA CITY BEACH – Beach officials have changed police and fire service retirement plans to allow members to transition to new positions within the city.
The change allowed beach police chief Drew Whitman to keep the retirement benefits he accumulated with the department after he took over as town administrator on Thursday.
“I think this will open the door and eyes of other employees to do the same,” Mayor Mark Sheldon said of Whitman’s career move. “It gives us a good opportunity to put these great people in a city management role or another department if they want to change.”
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Whitman, 52, was with the PCBPD for more than 30 years, rising from sergeant, sergeant, lieutenant and captain to chief. He was elected the city’s new manager in March, knocking out more than 90 applicants from across the nation.
His contract as manager was approved during the city council meeting on Thursday. He will retire as police chief and take up his new role.
Holly White, the former city manager’s assistant for finance and now the new deputy city manager, said the idea of changing plans was sparked by Whitman’s career shift. The ordinance was first discussed at the city council meeting on April 8th.
White said she didn’t know of any local civil service member other than Whitman who had moved to an administrative position.
“Both police and firefighting are stressful jobs, and those who retire from these professions tend to do so at a younger age than those in other career paths,” White wrote in an email. “This change gives the city police and firefighters an opportunity to essentially make a career change and remain employed in a completely different role in the city.”
According to Sheldon, every employee hired by the city completes a general retirement plan that is “very different” than the police and fire department retirement plans.
Because of this, Whitman needed the ability to get out of his current police department plan before embarking on a new retirement plan as a manager.
“I don’t think it would be fair for someone to lose what they’ve been trying to capture for over 30 years,” Sheldon said. “If he had lost everything, there would be no incentive for anyone to ever want to make that change. … It’s the right thing.”