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By BROOKE SELF
STAFF WRITER
Posted Mar. 22, 2015 at 3:50 PM

ADELANTO — About 40 former Adelanto employees and a few City Council members are named on a list of those who were grandfathered into a city policy granting free health care benefits for life, with an additional 26 former employees who stand to qualify but have not yet sought reimbursement, according to city records.

The major work perk is no longer being granted after ordinances outlining the benefits signed by past City Councils were rescinded last January. However, the city paid approximately $52,240, in 2013-14 on the lifetime health care packages and almost double in 2012-13 with a price tag of $106,579, according to a spreadsheet of the costs provided by the City Clerk’s office.

Messages and calls made to Interim City manager Thomas Thornton and Mayor Rich Kerr for comment on the policy were not immediately returned. Councilman Jermaine Wright previously called the benefits an “unfunded liability” the city is looking to cut.

“We’re going to be looking into everything we can, to cut unfunded liabilities to the city,” Wright said.

Current city employees who qualify include City Clerk Cindy Herrera, Executive Secretary Rachel Carranza, and Conservation Specialist Belen Cordero, among several others. Outgoing city manager Jim Hart’s name is also on the list.

However, the bulk of employees slated to receive the benefits worked at the former Adelanto Community Correctional Facility that was sold to Geo Group Inc. for $28 million in 2010, records show. The benefits were first established on June 13, 1995 as an incentive to “dedicated employees” to increase employee retention under former city Mayor Judith Crommie and Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Scarpa, according to Adelanto City Ordinance 95-38.

The number of actual recipients of the benefits appears to have declined in 2014-15, but was not clear as many blank boxes appeared next to employee names in the records provided by the city on Thursday. For both City Council members and city employees the benefits were rescinded on Jan 22, 2014 under Mayor Cari Thomas’ tenure.

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