DOWNEY - The Orange County Register (Nov. 2, 2010) reported the story first. The Patriot immediately picked it up. It concerned the lump sum payment of $624,000 received by former Downey police chief Roy Campos upon his retirement as of Dec. 31, 2009, at age 52, after three decades of service with the department.This meant, said the Register, that Campos "had accumulated gobs of unused holiday, vacation and sick leave-which were cashed out, making him the best-paid police chief in California in 2009." It also mentioned Campos' annual pension of $183,301. Naturally the whole thing caused detractors to cry out, "Foul! Foul!" - ready to condemn anybody and everybody caught in the web of suspicion that had already claimed the careers of city officials in Bell and threatened those in other cities. In any case, a lynching mentality seemed to pervade the scene. In all fairness, this is an attempt to put a little clarity to the Campos story. That the figures cited by the Register were provided by the state controller's office (SCO) is correct. John Michicoff, the city's finance director, is on record as saying that "Pursuant to a directive from SCO, the city sent certain salary and compensation data to the controller which was in turn made accessible on their website. This data basically included the department, position classification, salary range, calendar year 2009 wages subject to Medicare, the pension formula and some benefits data. The SCO website included agencies throughout the state." Because of persistent scrutiny from various quarters, including several newspapers, Michicoff said he was constrained to provide city manager Gerald Caton an itemization of each aspect of [Campos's] compensation reported by the SCO, as follows: •Wages throughout the 2009 calendar year: $192,805.90 •Leave time due upon separation - compensatory time (805.84 hours): $78,555.46 •Vacation time (1,448.30 hours): $141,184.19 •Sick leave time (1,1861.40 hours): $181,454.30 •Total leave time: $401,193.95 •Total wages paid and reported to SCO: $593,999.85 •Employee's pension contribution (9%): $17,340.00 •Health benefits:‚Äà$12,325.00 Total: $623,664.85 It must be stressed, said Michicoff, that the sick leave time of $181,454.30 was not actually paid to Campos but was sent directly to the city's qualifying health savings plan. The plan, explained Irma Youssefieh, director of human resources, allows retirees like the police chief, to draw on his unused sick leaves until his accumulation runs out. Since executive management personnel (to which Campos belonged) were excluded from receiving overtime pay, he was paid straight time referred to as compensatory time (hours accrued by working beyond the 40-hour per week, but not paid at overtime rates). Other exclusions were entitlements to education incentive pay and access to grievance procedures. Retirement pay is based upon the 3% at 50 formula, in which the retiring executive gets three percent of his highest-attained (at retirement) base salary for every year of service, assuming he retires at age 50 or beyond. When he left, Campos had reached the maximum ($202,764) in his salary range. Thus even if there was a reduction in the lump sum figure of $624,000 which everybody assumed Campos got when he retired, it's easy to see that he indeed got a lot-but evidently not because of any hocus pocus, but because Downey's compensation structure, acknowledged as one of the best in California, allowed him to legally get only what was due him. Additional benefits Some of the other benefits paid for, in his case, by the city: 100% contribution to his and his dependents' medical coverage, plus dental benefits, plus life insurance. Because of straightened economic circumstances, and because of heretofore obviously overly generous salary and benefits, fiscally conscious city and state officials have been studying how to trim budgets and plans (including pension plans) across the board to suit the realities of the times.
********** Published: April 7, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 51