Undersheriff Steve Bolts plans to step down
August 30, 2010
By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Undersheriff Steve Bolts announced Friday he plans to leave the department next month in an email memo to select sheriff employees.
In June, Atascadero Police arrested Bolts for suspicion of drunk driving. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Bolts has served as undersheriff since Sheriff Pat Hedges created the position in 2004.
Following Bolts’ retirement on Jan. 1, Hedges declined to hire a permanent replacement, instead creating a one-year undersheriff position and hiring Bolts back as an hourly employee.
Bolts’ early departure will lower his 2010 retirement benefits and hourly salary to between $600,000 and $723,000, according to calculations based on dates provided by Bolts.
The principal reason for Bolts’ hefty income is the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). Adopted by the board of supervisors in October 2006, DROP allows county employees to simultaneously collect both their full wages and benefits along with their full retirement for a period of no more than five years.
DROP monies are stored in an investment account and paid in their entirety to employees when they retire. After three years in the program, Bolts retired.
In addition to collecting his DROP account monies and his retirement, Bolts is currently being paid between $70 and $82 an hour by the county.
According to the county’s temporary hire rules, Bolts can put in no more than 960 hours a fiscal year. However, because he was re-hired on Jan. 1, the next 12 months fall into two separate fiscal years.
Nevertheless, prior to his DUI arrest, Bolts regularly worked more than 50 hours a week in his undersheriff position, sources said.
On the other hand, inside sources allege that after Hedges announced he would not run for reelection, he has rarely been seen around the department. According to California government code, elected officials are required to work at least one day a year.
“Hedges is gone most of the time and has Bolts do his work in his absence,” said one sheriff department employee who asked to remain anonymous.
In Jan. 2007, Hedges began to draw both his pension and his sheriff/coroner’s salary. He is slated to take home approximately $340,000 this year.