Prairie Village looks to extend police pension plan in an effort to retain senior officers

Prairie_Village-Police_Car

In a move designed to retain senior level police officers and supervisors, the Prairie Village City Council is moving to extend the police pension plan so officers can accrue pension benefits through 30 years of service. The benefits are now capped at 25 years.

Officers can retire as early as 20 years of service. Only Prairie Village and Wichita have private police pension programs, the council was told. All other cities are on the state system.

The proposal also would allow officers to opt into the extended plan, but they would be required to double their contribution from four to eight percent of base salary for the extra years.

“We are not going to really know how many people are going to opt into this,” said Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf. Four officers now have between 20 and 25 years of service and by 2020, 66 percent of supervisors will be eligible for the 20-year retirement, he said.

The service cap in the state system is 36 years.

The change would cost the city a total of $12,500 in 2017, Schwartzkopf said. The cost of hiring and training a new officer is estimated from $27,000 to $48,000 and can take up to a year.

Schwartzkopf said it was worth trying the change to “stop the flow of people leaving.”

The council also agreed to move forward with a plan to increase vacation time by allowing all city employees with 20 years of service to accrue 25 days per year instead of 20. The vacation accrual rate currently tops out after 10 years of service.

Several council members wanted additional cost information, but the majority agreed to move it forward during the committee of the whole meeting. The move is also seen as a method of retaining senior employees.