By Robert Haugh
The City Council voted 4-3 last Tuesday to give Police Chief Mike Sellers “retroactive pay” of around $23,000. That’s what they said they were doing. Maybe that’s what they thought they were doing.
But it looks like Sellers gets a whole lot more. He’ll get to cash out $505,653 when he retires. Wow. That’s a lot of dough, especially for a police chief who received a “no confidence” vote from his department just two years ago.
And Sellers is expected to retire in the next 12 months, according to police department sources. If that’s true, he just got a huge pension spike.
We’re still trying to figure out how much that will cost the city. But we’re having a little trouble getting info. The City’s HR Director Liz Brown suddenly resigned on Thursday, March 22. She was the one who took a “personal day” off instead of showing up to the council meeting to discuss Sellers’ pay increase. We’re hearing lots of rumblings from City Hall and the police department that there may be an investigation of Brown to figure out who directed her to do certain things. This may be getting interesting.
So when we get some more pension data, we’ll report it in future column.
But here’s what we know about Sellers’ compensation:
- Sellers’ salary increased from $290,052 to $313,256 because of the council action.
- That means the amount the city pays annually for Sellers’ pension to CALPERS also increases from $123,934 per year to $133,849. (not a typo).
- His hourly rate increased from $139 to $151.
- Sellers gets to “cash out” his unused vacation and sick leave. Right now, he has 3,357.5 total hours.
- His total cash out will increase from $468,197 to $505,653. (again, not a typo).
- Sellers gets to cash out an extra $37,456 in cash out because of the council action.
Here’s a spreadsheet of Sellers salary and compensation:
Technically Illegal Raise
The vote to give Sellers an increase was controversial last Tuesday because technically it was illegal.
Sellers got cost of living adjustments that were never reported publicly and voted on in public session. Apparently, HR Director Brown just decided to give Sellers the raise even though City Attorney Brian Doyle told her it wasn’t legal. Wow.
So the City Council did a “do over” to give Sellers retroactive pay. Sellers also got merit increases in the past, too. Doyle says that is also technically illegal. But nothing was done to address that.
Here’s who voted yes to Sellers’ “illegal” retroactive raise:
- Teresa O’Neill
- Patty Mahan
- Dominic Caserta
- Pat Kolstad
Here’s who voted no:
- Lisa Gillmor
- Debi Davis
- Kathy Watanabe
In 2016, he was the 7th highest paid police chief in the state, according to Transparent California. It’s likely he moves up the ladder this year.
Oh, by the way, the Santa Clara Police Officers’ contract is up at the end of this year. They’ve got to be licking their chops.