California’s public employee pension system (CalPERS) will return $792,873 in pension contributions to Westminster City Attorney Richard Jones and the city of Westminster, according to the agency’s press office.
The agency’s decision comes after Voice of OC reported in December 2015 on a controversial arrangement, whereby Jones was granted status as a full-time employee with a $210,000 salary and allowed him to pay into a state pension. This despite a host of outside commitments that made it impossible for Jones to spend as much time at City Hall as his timecards indicated he did.
In March, the agency determined that Jones was “never entitled” to the pension he contributed to between 1993 and 2015, because he is an independent contractor and therefore specifically excluded from receiving a pension.
Under the terms of that agreement, Jones received a salary paid to him every two weeks with no vacation, sick time or other benefits. At the end of every month, his two-week salary was deducted from the city’s bill with Jones & Mayer, his law firm that provides the city’s legal services.
At the end of every fiscal year, Jones also received a bill from the city’s finance department summarizing the total city expenses for his PERS retirement, Medicare tax and workers’ compensation — which he paid each year in three installments.
Jones has claimed that the arrangement never cost the city a dime because of the reimbursement scheme.
Jones will receive about $477,418 and the City of Westminster will receive $315,455 for contributions they made on Jones’ behalf. City of Westminster officials have not said yet whether they will give their portion of the refund — representing contributions that Jones reimbursed them for — back to Jones.
Jones is still entitled to receive a pension through a position as a former school board member at the Lowell Joint School District in Los Angeles County.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.