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.