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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Number Of City Employees Getting $100k In Retirement Pay Spikes 71 Percent

San Diego city employees reaping more than $100,000 in retirement pay increased 71 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year, a city councilman said today.

"Taxpayers should be outraged" by the increase, which is "offensive" when the city is reducing services and working families are struggling to make ends meet, Councilman Carl DeMaio said.

DeMaio said city payments into the San Diego City Employees Retirement System were "unsustainable" and too great to be offset by spending cuts to services or tax increases.

The Top 25 retirement salaries ranged from $174,200 for an ex-police captain to $304,000 for a retired assistant city attorney. Ten former city employees got more than $211,000 last year. Retired firefighters accounted for 10 of the 25 highest pensions. Five retired police officers were among the top 25.

The names of the retired public employees in the report DeMaio were kept secret. He said his problem was with the system, not retirees.

"The longer we wait, the more individuals are going to retire and receive these payments," DeMaio said. "The sooner you act, the quicker you'll see these payouts return to sustainable levels."

According to DeMaio, the city needs to compute pensions based on an employee's base salary and guard against losses in a deferred retirement plan used by many older employees. The program, known as DROP, will eventually cost the city about $150 million the way it is set up, according to a consultant's report.

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