$172,015 dollars. That’s how much it costs Regional Transit to contract for one sheriff’s deputy to provide security for a year. Sacramento City police who do the same job cost $128,099 dollars, $44 thousand dollars less per officer than deputies. That’s a staggering cost differential.
What accounts for it? Retirement benefits for the most part. Both have generous pensions, but police retirement pay is capped at 90 percent of an officer’s last year’s salary. Deputies can collect 100 percent of their last year’s pay. When final calculations are done, many deputies earn more in retirement than they did when they were working.
When it contracts with deputies, Regional Transit has to pay those costs. Lavish deputy pensions are not the only reason RT is scrapping 28 of 91 weekday bus routes, ending all transit service that starts after 9pm and decimating weekend service, but it highlights a key problem. Sacramento county employees - and sheriff’s deputies in particular – have priced themselves beyond what is reasonable and what the public can afford.
Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.