County manager: county did not backfill attorney’s retirement
A recent email from the Colorado County Officials and Employees Retirement Association seeking to elucidate the subject of Grand County Attorney Anthony “Jack” DiCola’s retirement contributions has contradicted previous assertions, though officials maintain that the county did not make retroactive contributions to DiCola’s plan.
Previously, County Commissioners Merrit Linke and James Newberry, as well as County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran, have asserted that DiCola contributed to CCOERA, the county’s retirement plan, starting on July 1, 1980.
That assertion has been based on a 2015 email from CCOERA Director of Client Services Tom Krushensky.
But a more recent CCOERA email bumped the date forward to 1986.
The Krushensky email has been used to justify the “benefits” clause in the attorney’s contract that states, for the purpose of benefits, “the County Attorney shall be considered as a full-time employee from the commencement of his employ with Grand County, July 1, 1980.
“If the plan does not allow for participation, Attorney shall in addition to the salaries provided for herein, be paid an amount equal to the County’s contribution to the pensions.”
The clause was added to the contract in 2013. The contract was last reviewed by outside legal counsel in 2000.
In an April 28 county commissioners’ meeting, some citizens said they took that to mean that the county had backfilled the attorney’s retirement as part of the 2013 clause.
Newberry, however, denied that was the case.
“It was believed that in 2013, that a new contract made the attorney a full-time employee retroactive,” Newberry said. “What we did was asked the county manager to investigate when the county attorney started with our retirement plan, which was in 1980 or 82, so the issue that I heard, maybe I heard it wrong, was that he wasn’t part of the retirement, but we made him retroactive we made him part of the retirement.”
Newberry went on to state that when the county contacted CCOERA, “they said that he started on the plan on July 1, 1980. So the question about retroactive, that is now answered to me.”
Linke echoed Newberry’s that the attorney’s contract was based on sound information.
“It says in there that the county attorney is a full-time employee with a contract, but he’s always been an employee with a contract, so we’re not going to go back and back fill some big pile of money because he’s already been contributing to CCOERA since day one,” Linke said.
Commissioner Kris Manguso suggested having the contract reviewed again, though DiCola contested the suggestion.
“Why would you want to review something that’s over in two months?” DiCola said.
Contradicting messages from CCOERA
During the April 28 meeting, Curran presented what appeared to be a partial photocopy of an email from CCOERA Director of Client Services Tom Krushensky indicating that DiCola had started participating on July 1, 1980.
However, Linke read a memo from Curran during a May 12 commissioners’ meeting that said she had received an email from Gloria Michalko with CCOERA stating that Grand County began making contributions to DiCola’s retirement in 1986.
Krushensky did not immediately return a request for comment.
“Last week, we had talked regarding the employee’s contract and we did some research into CCOERA, and I reported it probably erroneously, probably because I had gotten erroneous information, and I believe staff had gotten erroneous information from CCOERA,” Linke said.
Linke said perhaps the county was not “asking the right question or it could be that he just simply made a mistake on there.”
Linke declined to speak on the matter, referring to his May 12 statement.
As of press time, the county had not responded to a Colorado Open Records Act Request for the emails from Krushensky and Michalko.
County ‘did not contribute’
During the May 12 meeting, Curran said she could not ask CCOERA what DiCola contributed to the retirement fund, but that the county did not contribute.
“I can only ask if the county contributed, and the county would only contribute as a match, so my assumption is there was no contribution by Mr. DiCola before that date because our contribution is match only,” Curran said.
Curran echoed those comments in an interview with the Sky-Hi News, stating that DiCola has always been a full-time employee, but that the county did not contribute to his retirement before 1986.
The county’s original inquiry into DiCola’s participation start date elicited Krushensky’s response, Curran said.
When the board of commissioners instructed her to find out if the county had been contributing monthly since 1980, Michalko responded, Curran said.
DiCola was made an appointed official in January 1981, though he was a contract employee until being added to payroll in 1986, Curran said.
DiCola announced earlier this year that he plans to resign effective July 1.
The county has received nine complete applications for the county attorney position, Linke said.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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