Vice chairman of KRS board will become interim executive director Sept. 1

08/24/2016 06:35 PM

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Retirement Systems’ Board of Directors on Wednesday named board member David Eager as the pension agency’s interim executive director once Bill Thielen retires Sept. 1.

Thielen announced his retirement at the May 19 KRS meeting.

One KRS board member who was not involved in Wednesday’s decision was Tommy Elliott, the former board chairman who was removed from the panel via executive order by Gov. Matt Bevin but restored in a temporary injunction issued by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd on Monday.

Eager, a partner in the Louisville law firm Eager, Davis and Holmes, says he had expressed interest in the pension system to Gov. Matt Bevin and will be interested in the permanent position once a search is conducted.

For now, Eager says he’s anticipating an involved learning process as he begins his work leading the agency on a short-term basis.

“There are initiatives that are in place that need to keep moving forward, both investment and otherwise,” Eager, who served as vice chairman as appointed by Bevin, told Pure Politics during a break in Wednesday’s meeting. “My job right now is to get a better understanding of the situation and go through a real fast orientation. Being on the board is one thing, but being the executive director is another.”

One thing that isn’t clear is how much Eager will make as interim executive director.

The KRS board gave Chairman John Farris flexibility in negotiating a salary with Eager, who says he doesn’t see a scenario in which pay would force him to turn down the job.

“There are salaries that have been established, compensation has been established, there are industry standards, and as long as we abide by those, I can’t imagine it’s an issue at all,” Eager said.

Eager’s pay wasn’t the only salary discussed Wednesday at KRS works to moves its employees in the state’s personnel system. Only one current employee is expected to have their pay reduced as part of the shift, but Thielen said the new pay scales for KRS workers may make it more difficult to recruit and retain employees.

Thielen said KRS originally left the state’s personnel system because the job classifications didn’t meet the needs of the pension agency.

“There’s been a lot of concern among our staff, and it’s heartening to hear that the staff’s not going to lose any compensation,” he said.

Personnel Cabinet Secretary Thomas Stephens says pay is an issue throughout state government, with salary schedules unchanged since he left the administration of Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2007.

Stephens said the most he can pay an incoming attorney in the state’s merit system is $62,000 annually, and he pinned the state’s inability to pay more on its growing pension debt.

“We know that we have a critical problem, and the number one reason that we cannot adjust the salary scale at this point is because the contribution amounts the to Kentucky Retirement Systems,” he said.


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