Former Grover Beach police chief double dipping again

February 5, 2016
Jim Copsey

Jim Copsey


Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey is slated to again receive a salary and pension simultaneously while he works as interim city manager following City Manager Robert Perrault’s retirement on Feb. 16. The city council is expected to approve Copsey’s interim city manager contract at a Feb. 15 council meeting.

Copsey will receive an hourly wage will be in line with what the city paid Perrault, City Attorney Martin Koczanowicz said. In 2014, Perrault received a salary of $141,997 and $172,522 in total compensation.

On Dec. 28, 2014, Copsey retired from his job as police chief which made him eligible for his California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) pension. The next day, he began working as Grover Beach’s interim chief at a monthly salary of $11,071.

California law allows Copsey to serve as interim chief or city manager while collecting a pension for a total of 960 hours per year. Shortly before Copsey reached the maximum number of hours permitted as interim chief in 2015, the council unanimously approved 10-year-veteran of the department John Peters as the new chief.

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.

Before he retired the first time, 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 2014, 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.


One can disagree with public employee salaries, or retirement plans. If so, change the law or the politicians that vote for them.

But, for the most part, such plans currently in place allow a ‘defined benefit’ which means that after a set period of time, one can retire with a set retirement benefit. Those benefits are set by an actuary and the plan is funded typically by an employer and employee.

For those virulent ‘double dipper’ haters, please explain the difference between a plumber who has retired and takes a job after retirement than a former police chief or other public employee taking the job. Who ever fills the job gets paid. And, if they are competent, who cares if they retired from a similar job or some other. The expenditure by the public agency is the same whether it is a plumber, police chief or sanitation worker who fills the job.


For your “plumber” he can draw from his fund(pension) and work a side job for as long as his fund has money. When his fund(pension) runs out of money he can no longer draw from it. Generally we would have not problem if the police chiefs pension works the same way, however the police chiefs fund, which is part of a larger fund, is trillions underfunded. In other words spends more on pensions than the fund has, and this is something your “plumber” would not be able to do.


Hehehe, looks like a few people pulled their heads out of the sand long enough to down-vote your explanation of the reality of the situation. Gotta love the ignorance that permeates our society!

Mitch C

Perrault is such a class act and exceptional city manager; it is a shame that the Grover city council would even consider that piece of crap Copsy to follow in the footsteps of a good and competent manager.


That mustache is the real outrage.


Look, if you are going to be GIVING IT AWAY like the unionized public sector seems to do with reckless abandon, then do not be surprised when people line up to “get some” or “get theirs.”

We’re getting mad at the festering wound and the rusty dagger, not the villainous wretch that is repeatedly shoving in our backs.


I have no problem with double dipping as long as it’s legal. Maybe laws should be changed. I have a problem with local agencies who keep increasing wages for these overpaid administrators. I think new administrator and employee wages should be ratcheted down. Why do administrators, police officers, firemen + numerous others make more than the Governor or President? Have we lost our sense of reality?


I have a real problem with double dipping. if you are retired from civil service you are retired.


But why? If it costs the hiring agency to pay someone to do the job, why do you care if it was a ‘retired’ employee? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Taking your argument further, lets assume a teacher from Cuesta College or the High School retired. Maybe they only worked the minimum time to qualify for a retirement. Is it your position that they could never work temporarily for any governmental agency?

If you answer is yes, please explain your logic.


I have absolutely NO problems with double- or triple-dipping. What I have a problem with is a tax-payer funded, endless pension that is given out WAY TOO EARLY to people already highly over-paid.


Speaking of double dippers — Sheriff Parkinson gets more than $100K a year in retirement from his city police job while making about twice that much as sheriff. Whadya think of that?


I think we must have an incredibly well-run sheriff’s department! Right? Yeah?



there is no money for roads….i wonder why…..


I strongly agree with this statement. This extra tax for roads is a direct result of fiscal mismanagement. Salaries+Pensions= More Taxes, Fees, Bonds.


No money for roads? Where do I start. Until the 70’s California had the best schools, roads and facilities. But what happened thereafter?

How about expanding Medi-Cal, illegal immigrant education, Section 8 housing, general relief (cash welfare payment), food stamps and a host of other give away programs that primarily benefit people who should not be here in the first place and then spawned children who they couldn’t or wouldn’t support.

So, Josey, I challenge you to do the numbers. Look at all the expenditures for the items mentioned above since 1970 and convince me that it wouldn’t have paid for all the new infrastructure we now need.

Personally, I’d rather drive on new road than support a person who didn’t follow the rules and jumped the fence or overstayed their visa. 25.3 Billion is the cost of these services. So, check out this link and correct me if you think I’m wrong.


Why is there such a big deal made about this kind of thing? The guy retired and is getting a pension…he gets another job, do you think he should just do the job for free? Of course he’ll get paid for it! It isn’t illegal, immoral or unethical at all. You people are just resentful that he is smarter than you folks fiscally. Articles like this that make out what he is doing to be horrible are dumb.


with billions in unfunded pension liability you call that being fiscally smart?.


This isn’t about his pension…this is about him getting paid for the job he was hired to do. I swear, the envy exhibited on this site(and everywhere else for that matter) is mind-boggling. All of you could have done the same thing but since you weren’t thinking ahead and were too soft to take on a risky career you want to make him out to be a bad guy.


he is retired. no mo money. what part of retired dont you understand.


So, what you and your ilk want, is to totally control people and their lives. The city is probably saving money by hiring him as he is getting health insurance, etc. through PERS and they don’t have to provide that to him. It is painfully obvious that you are just jealous and there is no basis for your criticism. The city has to pay SOMEONE to do the job…you are just upset because you think he already has enough money! Nobody has explained yet how this is irresponsible fiscally to hire him. As mentioned above, the city is probably saving money. You folks should all go vote for Bernie Sanders, he’s your guy.


You really help your case with all of the facts and math.

Sorry, I meant all of the personal attacks, what a jerk.


Dear Kayak: In this case, regardless of whether the pension liability is unfunded is a completely different issue than whether someone should be hired on a temporary basis.

You should know that the temporary employee or ‘double-dipper’ does not add to the pension woes, rather they work with no employer contribution. It saves money for the employer and the temporary worker doesn’t increase his pension.


While I’m personally envious, I agree Jim isn’t doing anything illegal, and just maximizing his income under our current public compensation system. But clearly, the architecture of the public retirement system needs improvement; the basic idea of a pension is for providing income when a person is no longer able to work, not to give them a second income when they are still able to work.


” the basic idea of a pension is for providing income when a person is no longer able to work”

Really? Where is that written down?

If that is the case, my dad should still be working his arse off. He is in his mid-80’s and in good enough shape to hold down a job.


“Double dipping” is perfectly legal. Perhaps from a moral standpoint it’s questionable, but it is still legal. Don’t blamer the i individual, blame the broken system.

The entire state system needs to be revamped to streamline and economize while increasing efficiency and productivity.