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Early City Retirements: More details on plan released

Rocklin saves $1 million annually over 20 years in compensation
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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After concerns were raised about early retirement deals for city management, Rocklin City Manager Carlos Urrutia released more details this week. Late last year, the city council approved plans for 15 city employees who agreed to retire early in exchange for two-year service credits through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. “It is an incentive to get people to retire early,” Urrutia said. The benefit cost the city approximately $1,029,613 or $51,481 annually for 20 years, according to city documents. “It’s a lot of money over 20 years,” Urrutia said. “Right now the cost is zero. In fiscal years 2009-10 and 2010-11 (it) is zero.” The city’s budget will be offset by $24 million in salary savings for those workers if they continued to work for the city over 20 years or $1.2 million annually, according to Urrutia. The decision doesn’t sit well with Gretchen Hass, a concerned citizen and Rocklin business owner. “It really galled me,” Hass said. “When times are good, the politicians pass out lucrative retirements and promotions like candy. They seem to forget, unlike private business, that the good times do not last forever. They spend short-term prosperity on long-term debt.” The cost savings comes at a time when the city has cut staff from 310 to 260 and shaved millions from a budget that continues to see tax revenues slide from reduced sales tax and property tax values. Five top city managers have been asked to come back on a contract basis to help out. According to the city, Urrutia makes $111 an hour and will earn a service credit worth $134,984. Police Chief Mark Siemens is paid $95 an hour and will earn a $178,277 service credit. Assistant City Manager Terry Richardson earns $80 per hour and will get $99,209 for his service credit. Chief Building Official Pete Guisasola earns $54 an hour and will earn $65,659. Senior Engineer Jee Choy $48 an hour and will earn $59,071. The recession has slowed development projects and city work, according to the city. “It is an extraordinary situation,” Urrutia said. “I would consider it an extraordinarily slower time than normal, more difficult time.” That’s why Urrutia said the city will reap the reward of qualified workers available to work on the projects that remain, more or less at a discount. Concerned Rocklin citizen Cliff Keller praises the workers for helping to make Rocklin successful. “The experience of the managers who achieved this is invaluable and irreplaceable,” Keller said. “The fact that they are working at reduced compensation while doing the city’s business and looking for their replacements is what the military calls a force multiplier saving money while maintaining performance. (They) should be applauded not questioned.”