LANSING, MICH. - Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue will be eligible for a one-time payment of more than $500,000, plus an annual pension of just under $92,000, when she retires at the end of February, a state official said Monday.
Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said media reports Monday that pegged Etue’s annual pension at $141,000 per year are incorrect.
Buhs also released a department record that shows Etue, as of Sept. 30, had a $502,000 balance in a deferred compensation account established for her in 2012 under the MSP's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP). Upon her retirement, Etue can take that amount in a lump sump or draw on it to further sweeten her annual pension.
The Free Press reported earlier this month that Gov. Rick Snyder plans to re-appoint Etue as director upon her retirement, meaning she will be able to “double dip” and collect her $92,000 pension on top of her $165,000 salary through the end of 2018, when Snyder’s final year in office expires.
Etue has faced a barrage of criticism and calls for her resignation or firing over a meme she shared on her personal Facebook page on Sept. 24 that castigated NFL players who sit or kneel during the national anthem as" a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates."
Critics, including the Detroit NAACP and the ACLU of Michigan, said the post was particularly inappropriate for the head of a police department under scrutiny for its lack of racial diversity, particularly when the athletes in question said they were demonstrating against racial injustice and police killings of unarmed black men.
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Etue, who has a salary of $165,000 this year, apologized for sharing the meme and last week Snyder announced she will be docked five days pay for violating the MSP's social media policy.
Etue, who became State Police director in January 2011, was eligible for full retirement benefits in 2012, when she completed her 25th year of service. But she stayed on under DROP, a special incentive program designed to encourage senior staffers to continue working even after they max out their pensions.
Under DROP, staffers continue to work at full salary and benefits. While they do, the state deposits a percentage of the pension benefit they would have collected if they had retired into an account that pays 3% annual interest.
The percentage of their pension benefit that flows into that account starts at 30% for the first year and grows to 100% in the sixth and final year. But there are also annual adjustments based on how long they have been in the program, plus interest earned at 3%. The deposit to Etue's deferred compensation account for her sixth and final year in the program is just over $141,000, record show.
For State Police employees who work 25 years or more, the pension plan provides them with 60% of their final average compensation, defined as the average compensation their final two years of service before they enrolled in DROP. Any unused sick or vacation time cashed in at retirement can boost the final average compensation beyond their set salary.
In Etue's case, the final two years before entering DROP would be 2011 and 2012, when her salary would have been about $140,000, based on state records. The Free Press estimated earlier this month that Etue's annual pension would be at least $84,000. The actual number is $91,921, Buhs said Monday.
The pension plan includes an annual 2% cost-of-living allowance, capped at $500 a year.
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