Lakeland City Attorney Tim McCausland Asks to Join Benefit Plan
Published: Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:19 p.m.
LAKELAND | City Attorney Tim McCausland has asked commissioners for the second time in as many years if he can join the city's defined benefit plan.
McCausland said he wants to contribute $700,000 to $750,000 of his money, which is currently in a 401A plan he joined in 1992. A 401A plan is similar to a 401K plan.
This time, McCausland said he won't ask the city to contribute any of its own money. Last year, he had asked the city to fund 20 percent of his contribution. He had said he wanted to contribute an estimated $100,000 a year for the next five years to join a proposed plan that would have a defined benefit and defined contribution component.
"Reflecting on that, it was too much to ask," McCausland said. "What I'm asking for now is don't put anything in it.
"It's no cost to the city, but it benefits me."
McCausland has said he was hit hard by the stock market decline in 2007 and 2008.
A defined benefit contribution would allow McCausland to receive a set amount after he retires, which he has said he would like to do in three years.
Last year, most commissioners weren't supportive of the idea. This time, some commissioners say they are more open to the idea since it isn't expected to cost the city any additional money.
Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields and Commissioner Howard Wiggs said McCausland's plan doesn't hurt taxpayers.
"It's no different than if someone took a pot of money and moved it into an annuity and you gave them a defined benefit," Fields said.
Commissioner Justin Troller also was open to the idea.
"I'm all for listening to seeing what his proposal is," Commissioner Justin Troller said.
Troller said he thinks that any contract written for McCausland should be done by outside legal counsel.
McCausland said another attorney will handle the contract. Commissioners are expected to receive a contract later this month, McCausland said.
McCausland has said he didn't have much of a choice when he chose the 401A plan over the pension plan. No city attorney had been with the city for 10 years, and the existing employee plan at the time required 10 years to vest, he said.
McCausland was hired by the city as assistant city attorney in 1992. From 1987 to 1992, he worked for a private firm that contracted with the city. In 2001 commissioners voted to name him the city attorney. He said he doesn't know of anyone else employed with the city in his situation.
The change for McCausland means that there would be a new contract for future employees who may want the opportunity to transfer their retirements to a new city retirement account.
"It would not only be something that I would be eligible for, but also something that others in senior management would be eligible for as well," McCausland said.
[ John Chambliss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7588. ]
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