Grover Beach police chief to double-dip into taxpayer funds
December 17, 2014
Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey will soon receive a salary and pension simultaneously following a decision by the city council to employ him as interim chief after he retires later this month.
Copsey is set to retire on Dec. 28, making him eligible for his California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) pension. On Dec. 29, he will become Grover Beach’s interim chief at a monthly salary of $11,071.
California law allows Copsey to serve as interim chief while collecting a pension for a total of six months. His agreement with the city allows him to do so through June 15 or until a new chief is hired.
If a new chief is not hired by June 15, Copsey could serve an additional two weeks as interim chief while collecting his retirement checks.
The practice of collecting a pension while working for the government agency from which an employee retired has become commonly known in California as double-dipping. Several local public officials have done so in recent years, including former San Luis Obispo County undersheriff Steve Bolts, who received between $640,000 and $772,000 in combined salary and retirement pay in 2010.
Earlier this year, Copsey also increased his pension by becoming Grover Beach’s assistant city manager, in addition to the city’s police chief. The additional position pays $13,230 a year, which increased Copsey’s base salary to $144,192.
The practice of promoting a public employee or granting a sizable pay increase shortly before retirement is commonly known as pension spiking.
In September, California Controller John Chiang released an audit of 11 state and local government agencies where pension spiking was occurring. The audit indicated that taxpayers and local government are on the hook to pay nearly $800 million from legal pension spiking over the next two decades. [Los Angeles Times]