"Double dip" issue postponed | NevadaAppeal.com
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"Double dip" issue postponed

A month after allowing top officials in Public Safety to begin collecting retirement benefits on top of their salaries, the Board of Examiners has decided it should look at the issue more carefully.

The board in July voted to declare a “critical shortage” exists for the positions of Public Safety director, his deputy and the department’s administrative services officer.

The law requires the board review and declare specific positions eligible based on special skills needed to do the job and the lack of available candidates among other criteria.

But the board, headed by Gov. Kenny Guinn, did so in July without specifically discussing the justification for any of those positions and did so in the same motion in which they approved regulations to govern the process.

Similar items were on Thursday’s agenda for chief deputies in the Budget Office and the Treasurer’s Office, as well as for a range master’s position with POST, the Peace Officer Standards and Training operation.

“A number of issues have come up in connection with some of these requests and I’m also aware of at least one more application that’s on its way to the board,” said Budget Director Perry Comeaux.

Guinn, who championed the decision to grant Public Safety Director Dick Kirkland both retirement and salary, said the board should delay the applications and “wait until we’ve got comparisons from other cities and school districts to make sure we are in concert.”

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa agreed, and they pulled the item from the agenda.

The “double dip” for veteran public workers was contained in Assembly Bill 555 passed by the 2001 Legislature. It was originally designed to help school districts bring veteran teachers back to the classroom.

School officials say some teachers would like to keep working but have put in enough years that their pensions are 90 percent of what their pay would be, so they look for work elsewhere instead of in the classroom.

Officials argued they need those veterans in math, special education and counseling, among other specialties, and allowing them to collect both the pension and the salary would bring them back to work.

Assembly Government Affairs Chairman Doug Bache, D-Las Vegas, said in July it was never intended to be applied for appointed agency heads.

Secretary of State Dean Heller, the third member of examiners board, agreed some questions need answering. Heller said he wants a “sunset date” on any such designation so it doesn’t continue forever.

He said a good example would be the deputy posts in Budget and the Treasurer’s Office where the special status could be approved for a year or two to provide training and guidance for their successors.

“And it should be retroactive,” he said, referring to the July vote allowing Kirkland, Deputy Public Safety Director Dave Kieckbusch and Administrative Services officer Jan Capaldi to “double dip.”

In Kirkland’s case, he is being paid his $103,301 salary and about $70,000 in retirement from 30 years of service with the Reno Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Department and a year as director of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety.

Hataway has 20 years in the Public Employees Retirement System and is paid $88,463 a year. Allowing him to collect retirement as well as that salary would add about $44,000 to his total compensation.

Adkins is currently functioning both as chief deputy treasurer and deputy for cash management. He is paid $82,839 annually and would get about $25,000 a year more.