Congratulations are in order for Palo Alto City Manager James Keene, who early this month celebrated his 5 year anniversary with the City. This is a major milestone for him for two important reasons.
First of all, this is an apparent precedent for him, at least in his track-able and seemingly transient employment history over the past 20 years or so, where he has failed to make that 5 year horizon in his employment with ICMA, Tuscon AZ, Berkeley CA, Coconino County (Flagstaff) AZ,the California Association of Counties, and others in the past.
This 5 year milestone now allows him to become vested in the California Public Employees Retirement System, also an apparent first for him in his retirement planning. That vesting occurs at the rate and benefit level that was in existence at the time he was hired by Palo Alto 5 years ago, not at the reduced levels he has implemented during his tenure. That would appear rather ironic for a Manger who has been so vocal in his criticisms of those prior levels.
Further, and more to the point, this milestone enables an increase in his "off the books" payment by the City Council to a little known provision in his original employment contract for an IRS section 401(a) "Government Money Program" account established for him by the City. Those funds are paid by the City directly into a separate pre- tax account without going through his paycheck or showing on his reported salary.
That contract proviso is for payment of 100% of the maximum amount allowed by the IRS code once the 5 year threshold was met. That now results in an increase of over $1000.00 pr month in that amount, up to a new annual total of $51,000.00 beyond his base salary.
Most private sector folks - and other City employees - are limited to a maximum of $17,500 per year, and that deducted from their base salary, not over and above it!
This all is just yet another example of the "Do as I say, not as I do" attitude prevalent at the top in City Hall.