Benefit feathers Stacey's nest -
Published Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 10:12 am
Benefit feathers Stacey's nest

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* * *

Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey's annual pension stands to increase by $17,000, largely because of his unused vacation nest egg.

Stacey's pension is estimated at $57,600, said Bellevue Finance Director Rich Severson. But “this is premature,” Severson said, “because we have not processed a final paycheck or distribution.”

Stacey resigned last week after learning that the city planned to suspend him for making an inappropriate remark to a 12-year-old girl and that officials also planned to consider additional discipline related to a misdemeanor handgun charge against the chief.

Stacey is retiring under the state's defined-benefit pension for police officers hired before 1984 in cities of the first class.

Under the terms of the pension, because he is retiring at age 56, the amount will be calculated at 40 percent of his average annual total compensation during the last five years. That works out to an estimated $57,600, or 40 percent of an estimated $144,000, Severson said.

If Stacey's pension were based strictly on his average salary of roughly $100,000 over the past five years, his annual pension would have been about $40,000.

But under the state pension program rules, he can factor in lump-sum payouts for unused vacation and sick time, including recent cashouts, Severson said.

In 2011, Stacey collected an extra $9,002 for selling back 200 hours of unused vacation.

Last month, Stacey collected $29,706 for cashing in 600 hours of unused vacation, Severson said.

His unused vacation bank is worth an estimated $166,326.

Stacey is limited to selling back 50 percent of his unused sick leave, up to 960 hours, under city policy. That is worth about $47,500.

When Stacey turns 60, he will be eligible for an additional retirement stipend from Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department Inc.

The nonprofit community organization provides “length of service awards” to longtime volunteers who are at least 60 years old, have retired, and had at least 20 years of service in good standing.

About 30 volunteer firefighters receive such monthly payments, which are typically $500 or less, said John Westcott, president of the organization. Westcott emphasized that the payments are not pensions.

Westcott said he hopes Bellevue residents appreciate Stacey for dedicating more than three decades of his life in working for both the police and fire departments and responding to thousands of emergency calls.

Stacey was Bellevue's volunteer fire chief from 1984 through 1997 while climbing the ranks in the police department. He was named police chief in 2005.

“He has been very, very active his whole career,” Westcott said. “He has done a lot of good things, and I have known him for years. We always got along well. He has helped a lot of people. He provided a lot of good leadership for a lot of years.”

Even though Bellevue has transitioned from an all-volunteer force to a paid fire department, Stacey continued to pull two volunteer shifts per week.

“You hate to see a guy's ability to participate stop,” Westcott said of Stacey. “You would hope he could go out on a high note. I hope nothing but the best for him.”

Stacey's vacation stockpile topped 92.5 weeks in December.

By retiring June 1, Stacey earned an additional 21 hours of vacation for the month of May, while he was on paid administrative leave.

That adds more than $1,000 to his final lump-sum vacation payout and boosts his lump-sum sick and vacation payouts to an estimated $213,826.

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