Nevenka Ubavich, 87, a former electrical engineer associate, received the highest pension under the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) with $363, 061 last year, according to Transparency California.
LADWP distributed $435 million in pension benefits. According to Richard Fellner, the research director for Transparency California, with the generous and expensive retirement plan LADWP has, ratepayers have to twice as much.
Regarding Ubavich's pension, she received a higher amount than the former LADWP General Manager Ronald Deaton who got $356, 806 last year and with the company for 42 years. Joe Romallo, an LADWP spokesman, explained that even Ubavich was earning $120, 000, she left the company after 47 years of service. Also, her pension was computed by annuitizing the balance in her account over her life expectancy.
"At 87 years old, her remaining life expectancy is much lower than someone retiring at age 55," Romallo added. Fellner was concerned because of the big figures. He stated that employees in lower ranks receive the higher compensation than employees working for private sectors in Los Angeles.
For Fellner, Los Angeles ratepayers pay 10 times higher than the average private employee is expected to receive.
However, Fred Pickel, an independent ratepayer advocate, contradicted. Based on a study Pickel's office performed, LADWP's pension rates are in the middle compared to other public and investor-owned agencies. Their study compared LADWP's salaries to 1, 400 utilities, while the pensions are examined against 31 similar agencies.
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