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Retirees make over $100K

Online database shows that former police chief, among other past officials, makes more than $100,000 in pension every year.

December 02, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

More than 30 Newport Beach city retirees receive pensions worth $100,000 a year or more, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

The watchdog group has created an online database of government pension recipients, drawing on public information obtained from the California Public Employees Retirement System.

Most of the retirees on the list of top government pensions holders are former Newport Beach police officers and fire fighters.

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Former Police Chief Bob McDonell tops the list of 36 city retirees with an annual pension of $100,000 or more. McDonell’s annual pension is worth $221,554.56, according to the database. That works out to $18,462.88 a month.

Former Fire Chief Tim Riley is second on the list, with an annual pension worth $214,600.56, or $17,883.38 a month.

Another retired fire chief, Ronald Sutherland, is third on the list, with an annual pension of $157,238.88 or $13,103.24 a month.

Councilman Don Webb also is on the list. Webb worked for the city for 33 years, retiring in 2001 as the city’s public works director.

Webb comes in at No. 17 on this list, with an annual pension valued at $121,936.32 or $10,161.36 a month.

Pointing out that public employees don’t collect social security, Webb said he believed longtime city employees have earned their pensions.

“If a public employee works for 30 or 40 years, their pensions should reflect the longevity that they have,” Webb said.

But he also acknowledged that skyrocketing pension costs will mean Newport will have to look at asking its employees to shoulder more of the burden.

“In the current economic times, we have to look at all the various options and see if the time is appropriate for more of a public employee contribution,” Webb said.

What the city pays into CalPERs yearly has steadily increased over the past few years.

Newport’s employee contributions to CalPERS for the city’s public safety employees alone have increased from about $9.8 million in the 2007 fiscal year to about $11.5 million in the 2009 fiscal year, according to the city’s administrative services department.

In total, the city’s payments to CalPERS have jumped from about $16.2 million to $18.4 million over the past three years.

Two years from now, the city will see an additional $6-million spike in what it pays into CalPERs, because the troubled financial markets of 2008 wreaked havoc on the public retirement system.

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