Jay Matteson has put in more than 20 years of government service toward a state pension when he retires.
The last of 11 of them are as an employee of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency as the Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator.
It turns out that those last 11 years don't count.
Matteson is one of 12 JCIDA employees being stripped of their service credits for the state retirement system after a review by the state Comptroller's Office found that they actually worked for local development corporations, which aren't eligible to participate in the program.
Matteson says that's not true.
"I don't know what other proof they need. I've never received a pay check from the Ag Development Corporation. My benefits are through the IDA. The only person that can hire and fire me is Don Alexander, the Chief Executive Officer of the IDA," Matteson said.
Matteson explained that he provides a service to the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation on behalf of his employer, the JCIDA.
He says he will appeal the State Comptroller's decision.
"I was hired by the IDA with the promise that I would receive state retirement. Somebody owes me that," he said.
Matteson says he's one of the lucky ones.
He gets to keep his service credits from before he signed on with the JCIDA so he'll get at least part of his pension.
Most of the employees on the list are losing their entire membership in the state retirement system.
"It makes me sick for what I'm about to go through. It makes me feel even worse for my colleagues that are really getting the shaft," said Matteson.
"Once the hearing and appeal process is completed, those whose membership is terminated will receive a refund of their contributions," said Eric Sumberg, Press Secretary for the Office of the New York State Comptroller, in an email.
"Because the other three individuals would still have active memberships from other employment, we can't say for certain at this point what the ultimate impact may be on their contributions," he said.
The employer contributions to the state retirement system made by the JCIDA on behalf of its employees will not be refunded.
"I don't see any legal way the state can justify keeping that money in there. That's stealing from the local taxpayers," Matteson said.
JCIDA Chief Executive Officer Don Alexander says the agency began talking to its attorneys Wednesday afternoon to figure out its next step.
Meanwhile, Matteson is hiring a lawyer of his own and is gearing up for what he expects to be a long, hard fight to get the benefits he has earned.
See list of affected people
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