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Commentary: Temporary Savings, Permanent Payments

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 19, 2010
The Rocklin city council didn’t just retire and rehire its workers. That’s a double dip. It also gave them golden handshakes – a reward for retiring early that boosted their retirement pay. I call that a triple dip.
In the case of the city manager, the retirement bonus will cost the city of Rocklin $135 thousand dollars over the next 20 years. The police chief’s retirement bonus costs even more - $178 thousand. In total – the nine golden handshakes the city approved will cost more than three quarters of a million dollars.
Faced with a drastic drop in revenues – Rocklin council members say they voted for the pension scheme to save money and avoid layoffs this year. But in a year or two, when part timers leave, they will be replaced with new full time workers. The temporary salary savings will evaporate, but the extra pension payout will continue. 
In the long run, the city does not save money. It merely pushes the higher personnel costs out into the future when another city council, and a new generation of residents who receive no benefit, will have to pay for it. That’s unfair.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.
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