Pension Spiked: Largest in CA history?

Investigative reporter Jason Henry of the Southern California News Group has uncovered what I believe is the most egregious example of pension spiking in the state’s history.

Over 99 percent of those serving as board members for California special districts do not participate in a pension plan — which makes sense, given that board members are not employees and serve only on a part-time basis.

The board members at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), however, participate in CalPERS, and receive the richest benefit offered to non-safety members — the 3% @ 60 plan.

Former WRD board member Albert Robles banked 30 years of service with CalPERS this way, but with a salary of only $33,000 for the part-time gig, his starting pension upon retirement at age 60 would have been around $25,000.

He then banked an additional two years with CalPERS at an $85,000 salary as Carson’s mayor. Because CalPERS is designed to facilitate pension spiking, the higher salary for just these two years is retroactively applied to his 30 years of service at WRD, thereby increasing Robles’ pension to around $80,000.

Later today, however, the current WRD board plans to hire Mr. Robles as the Interim GM on an ostensibly temporary basis to help the district find a new general manager.

Should Mr. Robles serve in this capacity for just a single year, he will receive an annual pension of more than $270,000, which translates to an additional $5.5 million in estimated lifetime pension payments. Not bad for a single year of work!

Oh, Mr. Robles has no experience whatsoever managing a water district.

To learn more about California’s most egregious case of pension spiking, be sure to read the just-published Daily Breeze investigative report, “Former Carson mayor could add millions to his pension if water district hires him to 6-month job.”

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