Hunzeker could forfeit big money if he delays retirement, official says

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 8, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission Tuesday approved a motion to try to postpone the planned retirement of County Administrator Ed Hunzeker next year.

The fly in the ointment?

Hunzeker stands to forfeit a $337,411.83 lump-sum payment he is eligible for under terms of the state Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), along with his $6,099.47 monthly state retirement checks if he works beyond his original retirement date of Aug. 31, 2014.

Hunzeker's lump sum and his monthly retirement benefit would both be voided under terms of state law if Hunzeker fails to "fully separate from employment," according to Ben Wolf, director of communications for the Florida Department of Management Services.

Hunzeker, 65, said he signed up for the DROP program at 62.

"Under the economics of the DROP program, I would be financially foolish not to sign up for it," said Hunzeker, who earns $170,000 annually. "It's part of the Florida State Retirement System."

Commission Chairman Larry Bustle sought permission from his colleagues to negotiate a financial way to delay Hunzeker's retirement, saying the county administrator had done an excellent job.

They voted unanimously in favor of a motion to that effect.

Bustle said it was a "bad time to be changing administrators," and urged the board to allow him to try to negotiate a new contract with Hunzeker, acknowledging that it could cost the commission money to alter Hunzeker's retirement plans.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said, "I think he's done a fantastic job, and would be very difficult to replace."

Hunzeker expressed surprise at the idea, as did many of the commissioners.

But he was not entirely averse.

"I have no shortage of enthusiasm for this stuff," he said after the meeting. "It is intriguing, it engages me."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on

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