Sheriff Mike Downey may be joining the long list of local government employees who have bolstered their retirements through the use of “Pension Spiking”. Some folks may not understand what this strategy for bilking taxpayers is all about, so here’s the definition from Wikipedia:
“Pension spiking, sometimes referred to as “salary spiking”, is the process whereby employees inflate their compensation in the years immediately preceding retirement in order to receive larger pensions than they otherwise would be entitled to receive. This inflates the pension payments to the retirees.“
The above definition is EXACTLY what Sheriff Downey is poised to do, with the approval of the conservative BOS today. Thanks to the Lost Coast Outpost for the heads up.
Because of the consolidation with the Coroner’s Office, a “cost cutting measure”, the Sheriff and County Staff believe that now is the time for a 10% raise. Downey’s base pay would be raised to about $164,000, making him the highest paid elected official employed by the county. This raise is coming on the heels of a tax increase recently approved by the voters in Humboldt County. This raise would also come with the knowledge that Sheriff Downey will be retiring soon.
Of course, the conservatives on the BOS wouldn’t support a pay increase like this, would they? Time will tell, but if they do approve the raise it would show how blatantly hypocritical some of the Supervisors are. For instance, when discussing a pay increase for assistant county counsel Carolyn Ruth, Rex Bohn said,
“I’m gonna have a heck of a time supporting this because the long-term pension costs that are going to be ongoing.”
At that meeting, Mark Lovelace said he was “baffled” that the other Supervisors were taking issue with the request for a pay increase for Carolyn Ruth, given that she was “working out of class”. Lovelace said,
“This is a policy issue. This should be negotiated as policy and that is then applied broadly, evenly to every single employee within the county,” he said. “… At this point, it is singling out an employee in a way that we’ve never done before. You can disagree with my assessment that it’s political. There has been lot of politicization of the county counsel’s office over the years.”
At the end of that meeting, the Supervisors only approved half of the raise proposed. Of course, the amount being asked for then was about $5,700. For Downey, the raise would work out to about $15,000, plus the extra costs toward retirement and benefits.
Alas, we know that Downey will probably get some cash out of this meeting. After all the years of supporting conservatives, attending prayer breakfasts, and going to Rotary meetings, it’s time for the conservatives to pay him back for all his efforts. Of course, they’ll be paying him and padding his retirement with your money. Thank goodness for Measure Z, now we can make sure that highly paid local government officials get even better compensation packages.