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San Ramon Valley Pensions: What Retirees Are Receiving

List unveiled as state legislators approve pension reform plan

More than 700 former city and school employees in the San Ramon Valley are now receiving pensions through the California Public Employees' Retirement System, some collecting more than $100,000 a year.

The retirement compensation is part of a list posted by the San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers.

The CalPERS list was unveiled as the state Legislature last week approved a pension reform bill that is now on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. Among other reforms, the legislation raises the retirement age for most new employees from 55 to 67 to receive full benefits. It also eliminates so-called "double dipping" and caps the pensions of highly paid retired workers.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District has more than 600 employees listed.

At the top of the list is former superintendent Robert Kessler, who worked in the district for 34 years. Kessler, who retired in 2008 after 13 years as superintendent, was earning more than $18,000 a month when he retired. He now collects almost $13,000 a month in pension, or about $150,000 a year.

Second on the list is Roberta Silverstein, the district's former assistant superintendent. She was earning $15,000 a month when she retired after 31 years with the district. She now collects $11,300 a month in pension.

At least 50 former employees receive pensions of less than $1,000 a month. More than 100 others collect pensions between $1,000 and $2,000 a month.

Teachers also don't receive Social Security benefits.

The city of San Ramon has 60 employees named on the pension list.

At the top is retired Engineering Services Director Joye Fukuda. She worked for more than 23 years for the city. The survey lists her final salary at $16,800 a month. Her initial monthly pension is almost $14,000 a month, which works out to more than $160,000 a year.

Next on the list is Mary Athan, the widow of Byron Athan, who died in 2009 at age 91 after working for the city for 26 years as city attorney and city manager. He also served on the City Council. His widow is listed as receiving $11,600 in monthly pension.

Phillip Agostini, a retired senior transportation engineer, is listed as receiving $9,800 a month in pension after working for the city for 35 years.

Also on the list is former city manager He was earning $26,000 a month when he retired. He collected a monthly pension of $7,300 after putting in almost 27 years. That pension amount may change in the future. Moniz retired in mid-2011 and the amounts in the list were based on last year's payments.

More than 20 of the 60 retirees listed collect less than $1,000 a month in pension.

Greg Rogers, San Ramon's city manager, noted the city contributed money to the CalPERS system while the retired employees work, but they no longer put money in for that worker once they retire.

He said San Ramon is able to manage its costs because, among other things, it doesn't allow so-called "spiking" where unused vacation and other items can be used to inflate a pension.

Rogers does think the pension reform legislation approved last week is a good start to fixing the system.

"Reforms need to be made," said Rogers. "We need to go furthur."

The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is not on the list because they do not participate in the CalPERS program. The district in 2010 after being criticized for having three retired high-ranking officials who each are receiving more than $250,000 a year in pensions.

There was also no information on retired employees from the city of Danville because that town also is not part of CalPERS.

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Dan Arnhem September 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM
A few points about the pensions mentioned. Herb Moniz, had a final monthly salary of over $26,000 a month, or about $313,600 per year. With 27 years of service @ 2.7% per year, he is entitled to a pension of 72.7%. That would give a pension of $228,000 per year or $19,000 per month after 27 years of service. Less if he gives a future benefit to a spouse should she outlive him. Why his initial pension is listed as only $7,366 is a mystery. Missing from this list are all the fairly high police pensions. The striking thing about the list is that as you can see, 8 of the top 10 pensions are from people who retired in recent years since the pension rates were hugely boosted AS readers can see, the pension rates were jacked up from 2.0% per year of service to 2.7% per year of service. What is this means is that in the past decade all those pensions were instantly boosted by a full huge 35%. That with greatly increased salaries (above inflation rate), ends up giving final pensions that were 55% to 70% greater than those for employees who only retired as recently as 10 years ago. This 35% boost in pension rates is what has made the entire system unstable. Worst of all, they made it retroactive, essentially handing out Golden Parachutes to a huge number of employees. 30 year workers, stayed on the job only one extra month, and got their pension boosted from a 60% pension to a 81% pension over night. The public left in the dark.

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