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The whopper government pension of Mike Wiley, outgoing boss of Sacramento Regional Transit, continues to make news, but not just because it draws on the RT operating budget. As Tony Bizjak notes in the Sacramento Bee, Wiley is eligible for a pension of $278,000, a full $48,000 more than Wiley’s final salary of $230,000 and $68,000 higher than the federal pension maximum of $210,000. What did Wiley do to deserve this largesse?
“Shortly after signing Wiley’s contract,” writes Bizjak, “RT slipped into financial duress from which it has yet to recover. The agency has tapped reserve accounts in the last three years to balance its budget, leaving it with virtually no emergency funds this summer. RT raised rider fares 10 percent on Friday, making its buses some of the most expensive to ride in the country.” Looks like Mike Wiley was a major bust, but he still gets the big bucks. The outgoing RT general manager plans to select a pension option that will pay him some $220,000 a year, still $10,000 above the federal pension maximum of $210,000. As Mr. Bizjak observes, Mike Wiley is not alone in that regard.
According to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), 684 retired government employees get benefits above the federal maximum of $210,000. To pay for the extra amount, the cities, school districts and other government agencies that employed the retirees must come up with the additional money. As Bizjak observes, “the supplemental money is more like an ongoing salary paid to the retiree, rather than a formal pension.” In similar style, Regional Transit had considered paying the “retired annuitant” Mike Wiley a personal services contract of up to $50,000.
Meanwhile, RT board chairman Jay Schenirer explains that new boss Henry Li does not have a pension supplement deal like Wiley’s. “We are trying to be responsible stewards of the public money,” Schenirer told the Bee. Sure you are, Jay, just like the legislature. Taxpayers get that.