Nevada board OKs criteria for ‘critical labor shortage’
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – To curb high turnover among Nevada state employees, some workers – including the public safety director – will be allowed to receive retirement checks from the Public Employees Retirement System while collecting their salaries.
”It’s a tremendous problem,” Gov. Kenny Guinn said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Examiners. ”We’re losing institutional knowledge and experience with our turnover.”
”Why do we want to send our retirees to California and hire their retirees?”
Under the current system, persons in the PERS who are retired can’t be paid to work in the executive branch unless their benefits are suspended, Personnel Manager Jeanne Greene said.
Guinn led the three-member board, which also includes Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa and Secretary of State Dean Heller, in allowing some job classifications to qualify for the ”critical labor shortage” designation under a new law passed by the 2001 Legislature.
Under AB555, the board decides which job classifications qualify for the ”critical” designation.
The board approved Greene’s proposals for criteria for making the determination, including whether there is a labor shortage in the field, whether the position requires exceptional qualifications and certification and whether the turnover for the class has exceeded the state average in two out of the past three years.
The designation enabled Public Safety Director Dick Kirkland to get his PERS retirement checks in addition to his salary as head of the agency.
”It costs me $70,000 a year to do this job,” said Kirkland, who said he was pleased with the board’s decision.
Kirkland had asked the board to apply the ”critical” classification to his position and to 22 parole and probation, highway patrol and capitol police positions – all of which the board approved.
”I’ve enjoyed the job and the changes we’ve made, but it’s stressful, and there are alot of negatives,” said Kirkland, adding that he plans to stay as long as Guinn is governor. ”I could leave government and work in other places.”
Kirkland was with the Reno Police Department for 29 years before being elected Washoe County sheriff. As an elected post, state law allowed him to receive his PERS retirement check – which amounted to 73 percent of what he made as police chief – and his sheriff’s salary, which was $78,000 a year.
When he stepped down as sheriff last year to become public safety director, he became a PERS-covered employee again and the pension payments stopped. His annual salary is $103,301.
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