10/14/04 — Former city attorney given more time to consider retirement-pay appeal

View Archive

Former city attorney given more time to consider retirement-pay appeal

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on October 14, 2004 1:57 PM

The state is giving former Goldsboro City Attorney Harrell Everett more time to decide whether to appeal a decision denying him retirement benefits.

Michael Williamson, director of the state retirement system, said that Everett had asked for a few more weeks because he was preparing for a big trial. Everett is scheduled to represent the city in an annexation lawsuit next week.

Though Everett hasn't made a formal decision about whether he will appeal the decision, the former city attorney is gathering information relevant to his retirement issue. He has made a public-record request from the state retirement office for all documentation relating to his retirement issue. That request includes any correspondence between the News-Argus and the state retirement office.

In August, the state attorney general's office made a decision denying retirement benefits to Everett.

The city has paid thousands of dollars toward Everett's retirement, even though 15 years ago state officials said that he was not eligible to participate in the system. For purposes of retirement eligibility, state law defines an employee as someone regularly employed by local or state government who works at least 1,000 hours a year.

City Manager Richard Slozak has maintained that Everett was a full-time employee, but Mayor Al King and Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said he worked on a contract basis and was not a full-time employee.

Slozak acknowledged in a letter to the state retirement office last spring that the city had continued to make payments for Everett's retirement, even though the state had determined that he was ineligible to participate.

"I do want to point out, however," Slozak writes, "that the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System, after making this determination, continued accepting these payments for approximately fifteen years."

In a five-page letter to Williamson in August, Assistant Attorney General Robert Curran said that Everett wasn't eligible for retirement pay, unless the city had additional information it could offer that would show he wasn't an independent contractor.

Everett retired from his position as city attorney in late June, and paperwork was submitted to the state retirement office by the city for Everett's retirement pay. He has not received any payments from the system.

A spokesman for the retirement system said that it would not be possible to determine how much the city has paid in for Everett since 1974, but said it was in the thousands.

Everett is entitled to get back the money he personally paid into the system, but the city can only get the payments it made in the past year. The rest of the money stays in the retirement system's fund.