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Pension gaming at health care district?

Union Tribune (2010-11-21) Editor

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More Info: COPs Program, Grossmont Healthcare Board

By Union-Tribune Editorial Board

Saturday, November 20, 2010 at midnight

Why a 69-year-old health care district trustee tried to switch to full-time employee status can be debated. The potential pension windfall he stood to gain – a ten-time increase after just a year of work – is not debated.

Jim Stieringer served as a Grossmont Health Care District board member for 18 years for $6,000 a year. He resigned to apply for a position being created that would pay $60,000 a year. Had he been hired and worked a year, his pension benefit would have jumped from $3,240 to $34,200.

This situation may be an anomaly – and the problem was averted because the district wisely chose not to hire Stieringer. But it shows the problem with basing public employee pensions on a formula involving only the final year of service.

Stieringer and Barry Jantz, district CEO, insist this was no sweetheart deal to reward a trustee for years of service. Citizen activist Ray Lutz is convinced otherwise. That only three applications were received for a $60,000-a-year job in this economy certainly seems suspect.

Gaming of final-year salaries in the public sector, alas, is common. Area cities, including San Diego, are trying to change the formula to prevent abuses. They deserve everyone’s support. Such abuses only underscore the need for big changes in public employee pensions.
Topic revision: r1 - 21 Nov 2010, RaymondLutz
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