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Former city workers retired, but still working

Pension abuse or money saver? Depends on the point of view.

May 11, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • An analysis of of records from Glendale and California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, shows that 46 retired city employees returned to work at City Hall since 2000.
An analysis of of records from Glendale and California… (Steve Greenberg…)

Former Glendale Police Capt. Ray Edey is not one to relax, so when he had the opportunity to return to writing grant applications for the city in September 2011, about a week after he retired, he took it.

"I don't golf, fish or hunt," said the 30-year employee. "I need to keep my mind busy."

In addition to more work, he also reaped more money. He took home both an annual pension of $198,386 and a self-reported salary of roughly $80,000 a year until about four months ago.

Edey is one of 46 city employees who, since 2000, retired and then returned to work at City Hall, according to an analysis of records from Glendale and California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS.

City officials call the practice a money-saver. Critics call it "double-dipping."

Pension reform has been in the limelight nationally as public agencies grapple with rising liabilities. While the public has been stunned by underfunded pension systems into the hundreds of millions of dollars, news of government employees collecting two paychecks has also sparked its own controversy, experts said.

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"When they find out about it, they're usually not very happy," said Jack Dean, editor of pensiontsunami.com, a project of the conservative California Public Policy Center. "The average taxpayer assumes when you start collecting a pension, you've retired. If [employees] really wanted to continue working, they should continue working."

Of the rehired Glendale retirees, 37% are from the police department, a common situation since the retirement age among public safety personnel tends to be lower than other employee groups.

But when Police Chief Ron De Pompa, who is set to make $103 an hour and collect an annual pension of roughly $192,000, hears the term double-dipping, he gets frustrated.

"People really don't understand the system," he said, adding that employees contribute portions of their paychecks to their pensions.

It could also take months before a newly retired employee starts collecting benefits, De Pompa added, and it's difficult to fill high-ranking positions, such as Edey's.

But Rosanna Westmoreland, a CalPERS spokeswoman, said the goal is to have benefits paid within 90 days of receiving a retirement application and a mixture of employee and employer contributions fund benefit checks from the beginning.

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