Photo by Sam Hodgson
Bob Filner in November 2012.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s pension is creeping higher as he remains in office.
We examined the mayor’s potential pension payout during the campaign, and decided to take another look given the current sexual harassment scandal and calls for his resignation.
The mayor’s financial incentive to stay for a full four-year term is around $20,000 a year in city pension payouts.
What Does the Mayor Get Now?
Filner’s entitled to three pensions for his time as a professor at San Diego State University, his 20 years in Congress and his tenure as a city elected official.
The first two pensions are set. He received $14,756.28 from the state retirement system last year, a pension he’s been getting since 1992 when he retired from his professor job at age 50.
His congressional pension gives him $59,160 annually based on his two decades as a representative in Washington D.C.
Currently, Filner receives a mayoral salary of $94,074.
By serving more than five years as a city councilman, Filner was already entitled to $8,695.05 a year in pension payouts from the city even if he wasn’t elected mayor. He’s never collected it. This Council tenure allows him to receive a pension based on his time as mayor even though last June’s Proposition B eliminated pensions for new city politicians.
If you just count Filner’s state, federal and non-mayoral city pensions, Filner is entitled to $82,611.33 a year. All three pensions allow for annual cost-of-living increases as well.
What’s at Stake?
If Filner finishes his four-year term, he’ll be entitled to a $31,892.30 pension from the city, for a total payout from the three pensions of $105,808.58, not counting the cost-of-living adjustments.
So staying in office for a full mayoral term means a $23,200 boost to Filner’s annual pension payouts.
Here’s where the current situation makes things complicated.
City politicians receive their pensions based on their highest single year of salary. Filner has served less than eight months as mayor, which pays $50,000 more a year than what he made as a councilman in the 1980s. The city’s retirement system doesn’t know how much Filner would get if he left office now because city rules aren’t clear, a spokeswoman said.
“The mayor’s benefit formula requires further review,” said San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System spokeswoman Christina Di Leva.
Should Filner make it a year, his entire city pension will be based on his mayoral salary. Were he to leave office exactly a year after his inauguration, his total payout for his three pensions would be: $95,259.86, with about $21,000 coming from the city.
It’s fair to assume that if Filner leaves office before December, his total pension payout would be somewhere between $82,611.33 and $95,259.86.
What if He’s Convicted of a Felony?
Anyone convicted of a felony related to government business isn’t supposed to get a city pension, thanks to Prop. B.
But that provision is unlikely to apply to Filner.
He hasn’t faced any criminal charges in the sexual harassment case, let alone felony charges. But even if the mayor is eventually convicted of a felony – say as a result of the federal probe on his actions related to a Kearny Mesa development – his city pension probably won’t go away.
Tim Davis, the city’s outside labor attorney, said it remains an open question whether the Prop. B mandate would apply to any city employee hired before the law took effect.
“My own personal opinion is that it cannot be,” Davis said.
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