Council Benefits

I’m honestly struggling with the Council Member Benefits argument that has carried on for several weeks. The assumed number regarding the bottom line cost of a single council member keeps rising when discussed in the blogosphere. I sought answers regarding what’s been referred to as “deferred benefits” or retiree benefits and the financial impact on the city.  This is what I received:

The City Council receives the same retiree medical benefit as other City Executive Management staff.  In order to be eligible for the retiree medical benefit, City Council Members must be at least 50 years of age and have a minimum of five years of City of Simi Valley service credit with Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).  A City Council Member who is less than 50 years of age and does not meet the PERS criteria, is not eligible to receive the retiree medical benefit. 

If a City Council Member meets the minimum age requirement and PERS criteria, the City Council Member is eligible for 10 years of retiree medical after completing ten years of service with the City (Council Members with less than ten years of service receive no retiree medical benefit).  For each year of service over 20 years, Council Members are eligible for an additional year of medical benefits.  Additional years of medical benefits are not provided for service between 10 and 20 years.  Also, if the age minimum and PERS criteria is met, that individual may delay receiving the retiree medical benefit up to fifteen years from their separation date. 

The City pays for retiree medical premiums, depending upon plan selected, currently ranging from $383.32 to $610.02 per month.  However, Council Members have the option to split the years of retiree medical with their spouse.  For example, if a Council Member is eligible for ten years of medical, they could elect to split the coverage with their spouse for five years of coverage each.  The current premium for retiree plus one, depending upon plan selected, ranges from $804.86 to $1281.04 per month. 

The retiree medical benefit for City Executive Management staff, including the City Council, was revised and significantly reduced effective June 21, 2010.  Future new hires, including City Council Members, are no longer eligible for a retiree medical defined benefit, but instead will receive a contribution of $200 per month during employment toward a retiree health savings account, which is a defined contribution.

44 thoughts on “Council Benefits

  1. Mike,

    It took a crowbar to get this information released. Transparency? No way. This was released to the POA and now you get the info. Why did they not give you this month’s ago?

    Future new hires, including City Council Members, are no longer eligible for a retiree medical defined benefit, but instead will receive a contribution of $200 per month during employment toward a retiree health savings account, which is a defined contribution.

    Perfect, so does this mean that Sojka, Becerra, Williamson and Miller grandfathered their benefits under the old provision?

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  2. OK, so the benefit package is the same as any other executive management employee receives (pre June 2010 hire date) and will remain the same so long as the Council Member remains in office. New Council Members will have a reduced benefit package consistent with new management hires post June 2010.

    I believe the deferred health package for ten years was to provide coverage between retirement eligibility at 55 until Medicare kicked in at 65.

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  3. Perhaps all of this can be cleaned up with a single question: What was the total cost, meaning money that had to be paid or set aside in 2009, to fund existing and future pay and benefits, of all types, to each councilperson?

    The more that is learned about these many different kinds of benefits, be it monthly pay, monthly stipends, committee payments, insurance, pension, future insurance costs, etc., the more difficult it is to accept. I know no one who receives these kinds of benefits. I have known people who run multi-billion dollar enterprises employing many thousands of people who do not have these kinds of benefits.

    In an earlier post, I noted that the cost wasn’t so much the issue, getting the facts out so that the voters could appreciate the reality and make their decision was the point. Until we know exactly the number…in dollars…that the City had to set aside in pay/benefits for last year and what they will have to set aside for future pay/benefits, we will not have the answer. Even then, with the preposterous method of calculating pension based on eventual highest pay in a government position, we will not know what the total cost will be.

    It is time for clarity.

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  4. Mike,

    It is funny how the city gives out different information on the same question to the requestors

    Mike posted: Future new hires, including City Council Members, are no longer eligible for a retiree medical defined benefit, but instead will receive a contribution of $200 per month during employment toward a retiree health savings account, which is a defined contribution.

    From official city documents: Effective July 21, 2010 Sworn Management employees hired on or after June 21, 2010 are not eligible to receive current retiree health benefits, but rather will receive ca contribution in the amount of $300.00 per month during employment placed into a health savings account or similar program.

    Mike is your $200.00 a typo?

    Houston, we have a transparency problem here. Is there not money Councilman Sojka receives for being on the Transportation board? Should not that reported to the VCStar? Additionally, I cannot recall seeing Councilman Sojka’s benefits published in the Star as they did for Councilman Becerra and Councilwoman Foster.

    Councilman Sojka (Aug 30th city council meeting) “you know we are fully transparent here, in fact we posted our our salaries on the city’s website, ah these, so I think the Ventura County Star did an article on what we’re paid and yes we do have benefits included in that pay.”

    Were these future medical benefits disclosed to the VC Star? Did the VC Star choose not to publish these figures? Are these future benefits figures in the benefits package on the city website?

    Councilwoman Williamson is the one leading the canonization of Sojka crusade. So I have to look at the information and ask the questions. From the way Councilwoman Williamson talks about the Mayoral candidate, I expect him to part the Arroyo with his staff and lead us all from Pharaoh.

    I think we have been all asking to just post the information in a very clear and straight forward format. Quit feeding it to us piecemeal.

    I think that 3/4 of the tension on compensation can go away very quickly if the information was not so guarded. Am I asking for information that can be withheld from the public?

    I guess the next question will be, when will the City Manager’s benefits package be posted?

    Let’s just assume that the compensation is fair for the time and effort put in, then why all the difficulty just calling it like it is?

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  5. Ted, you are one funny dude….

    Councilwoman Williamson is the one leading the canonization of Sojka crusade. So I have to look at the information and ask the questions. From the way Councilwoman Williamson talks about the Mayoral candidate, I expect him to part the Arroyo with his staff and lead us all from Pharaoh

    I am going to call you on this shot…please re-print at least two things that I have said about Sojka…

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  6. Ted,
    Yes I responded to a question about what he has done in the last twelvce years, but that was just reporting the facts….nothing more, nothing less..just the facts…

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  7. Mike,

    Don’t judge Ted by what you read. He does this for the cheers and accolades from the ones he looks up to on Bob’s campaign committee and his friends in Rotary service. He will be the Ted we know and love again when the election is over.

    We miss you Ted.

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  8. Oh come on Laura, you can do better than that……surely that won’t lead to the canonization of anyone, let alone Sojka. And so what? In all the 12 years he has served that’s all anyone can come up with? Look, I support Steve because I believe he is a very good Council Member. Does he walk on water? No, but then neither do I, Huber or you. All we can do is the best we can, and to sit back and take shots on something that is so inconsequential shows what little understanding you have of the job. And yes, he gave the money to a charity and no, he didn’t write the check from his personal account………ok…you win…feel better? Geez, what is this world coming to? We have such big problems in the world. We have problems in Simi Valley with Farmers, and the landfill and we are nitpicking about how money was given to a charity….

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  9. Mike – there’s a difference between Executive Management and Sworn Management. The’re different groups. New hires for executive mgmt receive a $200 per month retiree health benefit and newly hired sworn employees get the $300 per month benefit.

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  10. Greg,

    I have to agree. Anytime transparency on the council benefits is brought up there is a concentrated effort to derail the conversation.

    If Mayoral candidate Sojka claims that the city is Transparent, then maybe the city ought just put the information out so we can all move on.

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  11. Perhaps true. But also, perhaps the Council benefits have been there for many years and were approved by previous Councils; or, if they were approved in a manner in which they were legally placed on an agenda and publicly noticed according to legal requirements prior to a Council vote, shame on residents for not paying attention and voicing concerns at that time.

    Doing so now just gives the appearance of a witch hunt.

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  12. Greg,

    No witch hunt, we have a state with money issues that is going to be an issue for our city for years ahead. The State continues to raid our Treasury and the Park District, putting more pressure on our budget and the Park District’s budget.

    On going future benefits for part time city council people is a legitimate issue. Do we need that kind of large commitment going out into the future?

    There are some fundamental issues here Greg, it’s part time position that has taken a loophole to spread out the salary over a full time hours so #1 the council can get full time benefits and #2 Satisfy the State requirement so the city does not have to offer the same benefits to other part time city employees.

    What makes this an issue and not a witch hunt is that the council and the CM have been very guarded and non transparent about the issue which only creates the need to look in to it.

    They are doing this to themselves. Just post the info so we can all move on.

    Why are you opposed to the information being fully disclosed?

    Would you like to do a precinct walk with me and see how the voters respond to the City Manager’s salary and benefits and then blame it on them for not paying attention. I’ll bring my Kevlar jacket with me. 😉

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  13. Paul,

    That really belong on the annexation post comments not the Benefits.

    Wayne is going to do what Wayne is going to do. The reporting in the VC Star is so sub-standard his comments will not get much reaction.

    Kind of like when Dennert thought he’d make hay out of my Arroyo comments and he guessed wrong on that one. 😉

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  14. Ok, Laura, I apologize. Actually I didn’t know that the money had come from a charity, but in fact thought the same as you that he had written the check. I am not to big for my britches that I can’t admit when I am wrong, and in this case you made your point. Thank you.

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  15. Letters to the editor in the Acorn today show concern over council benefits.

    Anyone still interested in doing a precinct walk with me to discuss the council’s benefits and the city manager’s benefits and see what the pulse of the voter is on this issue?

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  16. Priceless post on Sojka Facebook fan page. Supporter idea where council should publically log hours online and this would quite compensation critics. Other supporters “liking.”

    Go for it, please post your hours. You are making over $50 per hour at 2o hrs per week! Let’s discuss what the high school graduate mayorial candidate is worth per hour. What is any politicial worth per hour to show up and cast an opinion?

    I’ll be more than happy to tally your time cards and advise on your time management.

    Council in other towns work for far less.

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  17. Don’t forget that they consider it to be working when they are eating and drinking wine as that is part of their job (see the video of the last City Council meeting).

    Just logging the hours is not good enough since you really need to know what they are actually doing.

    It is important to realize that there is time required outside of the City Council meeting. But another aspect that needs to be considered is that it seems that some of the Council members are on various boards, committees, etc. and I suspect that they also get paid for some, if not all, of those.

    There are many aspects to all of this which is clearly not transparent.

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  18. So Barbra, why don’t you want people to be informed? Does that harm you or your ego the size of the room that you are in (based on your own words)?

    People should know that the people on City Council get other positions because of that and get money due being on City Council. Perhaps some want this hidden, but remember it was said that there is full transparency, which is not true, but it is what we can try to get.

    Get over it and get used to it Barbra, I am not going away and all your childish posts are going to haunt you. What will you be when you are no longer on the City Council?

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  19. I realize I don’t need to stick my nose into Michelle’s business, but just some information if I might because I am sure you don’t want to mislead the readers of this blog…. Michelle has a degree in Marketing and Advertising. She was also the owners of a printing business in Simi Valley for approximately 8 or 9 year, before selling it two years ago. Hope this helps.

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  20. I am sorry, and you know this how? I mean about Mayor Miller having political power to get Michelle hired to the administration staff of the hospital? I have read you’re post in the past and you seem to be a pretty reasonable person, but don’t you think this is a stretch? Do you have anything to back it up with? Normally I wouldn’t ask that question, but that’s a pretty pointed accusation. Are you aware she has sat on the hospital foundation board for I think two or three years, maybe that’s where they measured her talent and offered her a job. I mean they truly do need some good PR. I, like Michelle, have an education in Marketing and Advertising and it really doesn’t matter what field you apply it in, whether it’s banking, insurance or the medical field. The concept is the same. Again, sorry to butt in, but with all the mis-information floating around, someone has to ask the question.

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  21. Well you’re right…never been on the hospital Foundation board…you do know that is the board Michelle served on? You still have me at a disadvantage…why do you dislike Michelle so much. Is there something she has done to make you feel this way?

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  22. The information isn’t easy to get but informed voters are getting the infromation thanks in part to this blog.

    My guess if transparncy made the city look better the compensation would be posted pronto!

    Just the small amounts of information we get tricked out now makes them look worse and worse. Let’s not be suprised though, this is the enviornment of American politics today unfortunately. I think we just hoped it wouldn’t be true of our own city.

    Long term positions in government simply breed corruption. Look how closesly they they guard against term limits at every level of government…even in our own city government.

    Michelle should step up to the plate on this if she really cared for this city and pull out of the race for City Council!

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  23. Mr. Fishman, I take exception to your blanket statement that “long term position in government simply breed corruption”. There have and are some very honorable people in government, be it Federal, State or local. It’s like everything else, a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us.

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  24. Barbara
    I will agree that “all” are not corrupt. Yet the truly easy way to control the temptation of eventually making an elected position one that is self serving is to have term limits.

    The belief that limiting terms would limit good peoples ability to serve is wrongheaded, there will always be good and bad…hopefully more good; but the only way to control it is to limit the time one can serve.

    I know you love the city you serve. But it is time for new leadership and new blood to be infused here. 6, 12, 12, 19 are the years of service by the sitting council not counting the Mayor. What hasn’t been accomplished that you all need more time together? When you are up for re-election those years would look like 8, 14, 14, 21 if nothing changes…how long Barbara?

    Or are we all to believe that it is as good as it can possibly get?

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  25. LIke I have said in the past, you are my term limit….and believe me, if you aren’t doing the job, people will use it as experienced 12 years ago with the Becerra/Webb campaign.

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  26. Incumbents start to owe more and more people due to campaign contributions.

    How about limiting people for the ballot, but allowing them to have a write-in campaign. If the people really want the person, then they will elect the person.

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  27. LTR,

    Top notch job on all explanations.

    Everyone knows it is hard to unseat an incumbent. Appointments are a subversion of the will of the people and an horrible practice by this city…but that is a different subject.
    If there were no other reason for term limits then that would be a good one!

    What Michelle Foster is doing by holding the hospital position is disgracful. I am not speaking of her lack of talent, as a businessperson myself I would like to think I have talents that can be used. But to have no ethical problem with also sitting on the city council is troubling.

    I say again…if Michelle Foster truly cares about Simi Valley then she should excuse herself from the election this year!

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  28. If you listen to the VSV Canditate Chat – The
    Incumbents, the response is interesting. Becerra said that if the public was against the compensation, that they would get rid of it, yet I see nothing happening with the Council in terms of asking the public. Is this going to be on the ballot sometime? Is it going to be talked at a Council meeting? Or is it just talk to try to try to get through the storm?

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  29. Patricia—

    High school graduates can spell publicly, quiet, mayoral & politician. If your math skills are anything like your English skills, I might guess that they would pass on your services.

    If you are going to attempt to insult someone, perhaps you should at least use spell check.

    My issue with ANY politician is that the obligation to be a public servant seems to be overriden by the desire for money, power, and influence. The city suffers, the residents suffer and the reputation of our local government suffers.

    The sarcasm, pettiness and plain old mudslinging of politics makes it difficult, and unappealing for AVERAGE citizens to be involved and informed. I read through these forums and I look at the attitudes, the back and forth trash talk and it makes me very sad that regardless of who is running for what—-no one seems to be standing up for old fashioned values, intergrity, honesty, and loyalty. Doing what is right for NO money. For no other reason than because that is what needs to be done. We try to teach our children to serve our community as a service from their heart and not for their wallet….however, it seems our leaders have missed this very important message.

    I’m 43 years old and never really lived in a time of these values that our parents once spoke of. I once blindly thought that Simi Valley was like a little Mayberry and people served the community out of love, not for gain.

    Call me unrealistic and Pollyanna….but I believe it is what being a public servant is about.

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  30. Kim B., first off I am not a politician, but I am not running for the money, power or influence. I am running because of what I have seen from those on the Council. I would not be running if I thought that they were doing a good job.

    I am not accepting ANY campaign donations. I don’t want to be beholden to anyone but the community.

    Personally, I think that term limits would help to get those who are just interested in the money, power and control out. Becerra admitted that he has hopes of a higher office and basically said that he is on Council until that opportunity occurs.

    Part of the problem is that the residents of this community need to speak up about what they feel, but also need to demand easy access to the information. It is unreasonable for those in power (or their supporters) to claim that each person could go to City Hall and ask the question or that it is your fault if you don’t go to a Council meeting and speak.

    I think that the attitude of those on the Council shows that a change is needed. They seem to have forgotten that they are there to SERVE the COMMUNITY, not themselves or their special interests. Quite honestly, a Council member needs to do the will of the community, even if it goes against what they personally want.

    The bottom line is that *I* am trying to do what you are saying.

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  31. I had left a reply to your answer….wonder where it went?

    Well–I appreciate what you are saying. I think it is a GOOD START to not take campaign donations. As I said, serving the community should be for the purpose of better the community–not ones financial status. Including medical benefits. I find it completely preposterous that council members receive full medical benefits. Service should be just that….service. What an excellent platform that would be….a council member running to do good for the community—asking for NOTHING in return except for the improvement and support of the community they are elected to serve.

    I understand that Glen is a politician. I believe that is indeed his lifes goal. Good for him. Everyone should have goals…a higher position did come up….mayor. He obviously chose not to run—and is backing Steve Sojka instead. I think there needs to be a member on the council that opposes them—to invite new ideas, alternative perspective….having everyone on the same page, means that the page never turns and that the story never moves forward.

    If you are indeed trying to do what I am saying (or what you think I am saying)—then turning down all benefits, perks and goodies that the city offers to its elected officials—would be an excellent place to start and get attention from the community. Show us that you are truly in it to SERVE.

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  32. It is clear that the current Council does not want an “outsider” on the Council and instead would prefer to appoint a person that meets their, not the community’s qualification. Look at the Sojka ad for Mayor, quite deceptive in my opinion, but it also shows that the rest of the Council wants him for Mayor. While they might not all agree all the time, they should not be such a close group.

    I will be honest, I don’t have a problem with the benefits IF they worked full-time, meaning that they did not have conflicting employment and worked full-time, like other city workers, but that is not the case.

    I do not know what all the perks and goodies are, which we should know. I can’t even find out how much money the current Council members get from being on various boards, including outside boards in which they got on because they were a City Council member. The first step in cleaning things up is to make sure that everything is out in the open.

    There should be a public discussion on it and the people should be allowed to vote on it or the benefits should just be removed for all. I personally think that the past benefits should also be removed, but I doubt that can happen. Why should all the Council members get full-time service credit when they were working other jobs?

    I take it you are against even the small salary, correct?

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  33. I would not say that I am “against” the salary. I would like to think that our council actually works for what they are given. That, as council members, they do volunteer their time to the community—over and above the time that the small salary compenstates them for….whatever that is.

    How refreshing would it be, if people actually decided to take a stand for our community out of love and loyalty to the community and not for personal gain.

    I think the benefits are ridiculous. Most part time employees do not get health benefits. Don’t council members have other jobs that provide them healthcare benefits? This is where I have my biggest issue. This is taking money from the budget that could be better spent.

    Also, having a council that fully supports the mayor is completely ridiculous. Where on earth would our country be, if the house and senate all fully supported the President???

    I do not think that Steve Sojka should be mayor with Glen and Michelle on council. Mike Judge or perhaps yourself should be a member to keep the balance. By the same token, I do not think that Huber should be Mayor without at least having one council member opposing or offering different ideas.

    Like I said before, people will vote how they will vote. Regardless of how I feel personally about certain candidates, I will vote for the balance that I feel our city needs. Unfortunately, not all of the residents feel this way.

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  34. In my opinion, the Council should only get full-time benefits if they quit their other full-time job and work for the City full-time, 40 hours per week and that does NOT include events in which they are basically campaigning for the next election.

    The worst part is that they can defer the benefits for health care and use them later, when it is more expensive. They are also getting full-term service credit, so if they were to get a job elsewhere, like Randy Adams, their pension would be based on the number of years of service and Simi Valley would have to pay even more.

    They want pension reform, but they first need to look to themselves.

    I am not running for personal gain, perhaps personal pain :-).

    I also agree with the comments about supporting Sojka for Mayor. It seems that the Council does not want to have “outsiders” in at all. They should not be so “tight”, it is almost like a gang, especially when you consider Barbra Williamson’s attacks on non-incumbents. There should be 5 independent people on the Council, not a gang of 5.

    I just saw a Sojka ad which said nothing more than all of the rest of the Council wants him, which to me says that he should not be Mayor. In another ad the top two paragraphs were that he grew up in Simi Valley (as if that makes him better than others) and that his Daddy was the Chief (which says nothing about him except perhaps he was able to get away with things since who would arrest the Chief’s son).

    Some of this can be minimized by having fully open and honest communications between the Council and the public. Sojka’s Acorn ad is an example of deception, in my opinion. The Council was forced by the public to adopt EVerify and waited far too long before deciding to talk to WM about the expansion (I have heard that there are backroom discussions regarding the matter to see what they can get).

    I heard WM offered to give the City land for a shooting range and that the FBI offered to pay for creating it and the on-going money would come from public use, but the Council refused, which cost US a lot of money. The police also just want the range to be for their use, no public use, which is also wrong, in my opinion.

    Lack of action can also cost the public a lot of money.

    There is the opportunity to have three new people on the Council, which I think is a good idea, even if I am not one of the three.

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