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South Jordan • The city council here grappled with equalizing retirement benefits among its members, but ultimately put any decision on hold to further explore options.
Longer-serving members on the council receive better retirement benefits than do more recently elected officials after a 2012 law created a new system for part-time employees for anyone elected after it went into effect. The older members were grandfathered in to keep their original plans, resulting in a growing gap in council compensation.
On Tuesday night, Paul Cunningham, South Jordan government services director, introduced the measure. He said the mandate only codifies optional retirement plans.
"Employees of the city participate in a 401(k) match program that they can participate in voluntarily," Cunningham said. "We simply want to formalize that."
Some objected entirely to the notion of retirement for part-time public employees. South Jordan Planning Commissioner Linda Auger spoke directly to the council to abstain from raising pay or retirement and cited civic duty as the best motive for public service.
"You all knew what you got into when you signed on the line," Auger said. "You knew that this wasn't going to be a substitute for full-time employment. You do this to serve. I'm not sure that retirement for part time employees is justified."
The commissioner said she only received a 1 percent raise last year as a full-time employee and the part-time workers should be satisfied.
For Councilman Steve Barnes, the better solution is to remove the grandfathered Tier 1 benefits from the two remaining council members who still receive them.
"I think we should equalize down to what we [post-2012 councilmen] had when we came into office," he said.
The council voted 3-1-1 to table the proposal so it can examine the legality of reducing entitlements as well as the mechanics of proposed 401(k) matching programs. Members expect to review the matter in another month's time. This is the second time the bill has been viewed, which Councilman Larry Short said is justified.
"I think it's the biggest issue we've had on this council," Short said. "It came up before, it's coming up now, will it come here again?"