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    Police chief's pension tops $74,000 per year


    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Police Chief Goliath Davis III is in the money. He will collect an annual police pension of $74,400 and an annual salary of $118,000 in his new role as one of the city's deputy mayors.

    "I work hard every day," Davis said Friday. "What's the big deal?"

    Davis, 50, who will step aside in October after 28 years with the Police Department, is not the only one putting in time, getting a pension and signing on as a civilian employee to make even more money.

    A former assistant police chief and at least two other police officers recently left the Police Department and now work for the city in some other capacity.

    First Deputy Mayor/City Administrator Tish Elston says provisions in the city code allow for public safety employees to be rehired. In fact, she encourages employees to stay.

    The option is suited for public safety employees. If they join the police or fire departments at 18 years old, they can retire at 43 with full pension benefits. And they're still young enough to work.

    "I think it's just a product of today's economy," Elston said. "I think we're going to see more and more of that if you've got somebody who understands city government and works well with citizens."

    On Thursday, Mayor Rick Baker announced a reorganization plan that moves Davis to City Hall as deputy mayor for economic development in St. Petersburg's poorest neighborhoods.

    Davis will step down from his chief's post Oct. 5 after a nationwide search for a successor. On Monday, he officially assumes his economic development duties but will earn one salary, $118,000.

    Davis said he has not even called the pension office to determine his pension benefit.

    He laughed and said, "Tell me how much money I'll make."

    "Holy baloney!" said Lorraine Margeson, a community activist, when she learned of Davis' income.

    Davis is not the only one making good money.

    Rick Stelljes, one of the city's former assistant police chiefs, is now spokesman for the Police Department. He earns a $42,408 annual police pension and an annual salary of $51,984 as manager of community awareness.

    Mike Kepto, a former officer, works in code enforcement. His annual pension is $23,628, and his salary is $34,486.

    Earl Cooley, another police officer, works in billing and collections. His pension is $22,824, and his salary is $47,643.

    Though Davis will remain a city employee, he is not eligible for additional pension benefits, Elston said. He can, however, take part in two of the city's deferred savings programs. In one, Davis can defer a percentage of his salary, tax free, for investment. In the other, he can receive an annual 11 percent contribution -- $12,980 -- from the city.

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