Pensions proving costlier

Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/21/2010 10:35:15 PM PDT

CLAREMONT – The big pay raises that Indio gave to a former Claremont city manager and assistant city manager will cost the Inland Valley city an additional $100,000 a year in pension liability now that both have retired.

Final salary at retirement is one of the factors that determines a public employee’s pension and the pension liability for each city or agency where the retiree worked in his or her public career.

The salaries former Claremont employees Glenn Southard and Bridget Healy received in Indio boosted Claremont’s liability for their retirements by about 75 percent, based on figures provided by the two cities.

Southard was Claremont’s city manager for 17 years before Indio hired him away in April 2005 and paid him $240,000 a year to start.

After five years with Indio, he was making $309,375 annually when he retired in April.

According to a spokesman for the California Public Employees Retirement System, Southard’s pension is $21,299.93 a month, or just under $255,600 annually.

Claremont’s share of his pension liability is about $131,500 annually, based on three factors: his 17 years with Claremont, his final salary with Indio and the 2.5percent pension factor that was in effect in Claremont when he left that city five years ago.

Healy worked for Claremont for 18 years and rose to assistant city manager. Southard hired her for the same position in Indio, and she retired from that desert city in 2008 with a pay rate of $235,000 including a bonus, according to Tara Lee Adams, Indio’s current assistant city manager.

Her annual pension is $166,700, according to CalPERS. Claremont’s share pencils out to about $105,800 a year.

Based on the pair’s salaries when they left Claremont in 2005 – $175,923 for Southard and $133,061 for Healy, according to Claremont Finance Manager Adam Pirrie – the city’s liability for their pensions then was only about $135,000 annually, compared with today’s $237,000 based on their final Indio salaries.

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