Departing S&WB general superintendent to collect $119,116 annually in pension payments

Outgoing S&WB General Superintendent Joe Becker
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NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Becker, the outgoing general superintendent of the Sewerage & Water Board, will collect an annual pension of $119,116 in retirement, City Hall said Monday.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he would ask the S&WB’s Board of Directors to fire Becker after revelations during a City Council meeting that a growing number of drainage pumps were not working when parts of the city flooded Aug. 5. S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant initially denied the system had any issues. He announced days later he would retire effective Nov. 30 and will collect $175,000 in annual pension payments.

Becker announced ahead of a special board meeting called to discuss issues related to the Aug. 5 flood and another one on July 22 and during which Landrieu said he would ask the board to fire him and S&WB Communications Director Lisa Martin fired.

Martin announced her resignation before the board could vote on firing her.

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Becker, who by all accounts was well-liked among rank and file staff members, entered the retirement program Aug. 1, four days before the flood and days after the July 22 flood. He can continue health-care coverage through the S&WB and is entitled to collect any unused sick or vacation days after his last day of work on Sept. 30.
 
"It has been a pleasure to work at the Sewerage & Water Board for the past 30 years. I know that I am a better man for the experiences and I hope that the organization benefited from my efforts," he wrote in his resignation letter. "I wish the organization every success in the future and I thank the Board for giving me an opportunity to serve."
 
Martin’s last day will be Sept. 1. She was not eligible for pension payments since she was not a vested employee, City Hall said. She is eligible for payment for any unused sick and vacation days as well as a refund of pension contributions she made while working for the S&WB.

Col. Mark Jernigan, whom Landrieu appointed to lead the Department of Public Works, also announced his resignation after the council meeting called in the wake of the flood. His last day will be Aug. 18.

Jernigan, 48, has more than five years with the city and is eligible for a pension but can wait until he is 65 to begin to collect it or can roll that money into another pension program if he gets another public-sector job or move it into a private 401(k). He is eligible to collect payment for any unused sick or vacation days.