Outrage causes Marietta council to review controversial pension plan

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Outrage causes Marietta council to review controversial pension plan

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Janet and Hal Cosper pose for a family photo. Hal died of a heart attack last July after working for the City of Marietta for more than two decades. The city has said it does not have to pay Hal’s pension benefit to his widow because he was not retired when he died. The city council is holding a special meeting on the pension plan Wednesday.

The Marietta City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss a provision in the city’s employee pension that withholds money from the widows and children of employees who die before retirement.

Councilman Johnny Walker said the council decided to meet on the topic after an AJC Watchdog column drew attention to the plight of Janet Cosper, wife of a longtime city administrator who died last July. The little-known policy prompted outrage from readers when the AJC reported on it last week.

Hal Cosper, the city’s chief building official, died of a heart attack at 65 just a few months ahead of his planned retirement. Although Hal Cosper was fully vested in the city’s pension plan, the city has said it will not pay any benefit to his widow because the pension plan does not require it.

“We’re definitely going to be taking a look at this,” Walker said. Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin and other members of the city council would not comment on the matter.

The lack of a survivor’s benefit for current city employees has been part of the plan since 1987. Former city employees said the city council and pension board should find a solution that protects the families of vested employees.

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