The House Always Wins, or in this case, Both Houses Win! The Cozy Financial Ties Between Sky River Casino and the Elk Grove PD




By D.J. Blutarsky | Guest Contributor | UPDATED 11 am September 13 | 

It seems like it was just yesterday that the Elk Grove Citizen plastered on its front page the headline, "Retired EG Police Chief joins Sky River Casino Staff."  Ever since that May 27, 2022 article ran, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Consent Item 7.7 of the upcoming September 14th City Council agenda confirms for me that the slots have hit 7-7-7, and it's jackpot time for the EGPD!

The item in question (if you consider a Consent item on a Council agenda to be a 'question' and not a done deal) is whether the City will allow its uniformed police officers and police supervisors to work at the casino and the City would be reimbursed by the casino at the average overtime rate, plus $7.00/hr for the vehicle usage. You may ask yourself, what's the big deal-the casino is picking up the tab?




Well, on the surface, this sounds like a fair deal. Instead of the stereotypical burly men in suits walking the casino floor, uniformed EGPD officers would keep things in order, and everyone is happy unless the card dealer is super hot and the slots are especially tight! But there is one catch to this deal as I see it.

It is common for police officers to seek outside work providing security services for things such as loss prevention for retail stores and event security. The EGPD union contract even anticipates this and merely requires that the Police Chief be aware of that off-duty work and approve of it. The officers performing this work are off-duty and are essentially employees of the firm that hired them and draw paychecks from that employer.

Agenda item 7.7 proposes that the casino contract with the City and EGPD for security services and reimburse the City for those actual costs, as opposed to hiring off-duty officers and issuing them a casino uniform. Here's the kicker: There are long-term cost implications to the City (meaning the taxpayers) and the way the officers' retirement is calculated. 

By compensating the officers with a City paycheck instead of a casino check, the City is essentially having to report a higher employee monthly pay to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS), which increases the City's cost-sharing obligations under its contract with PERS.

According to PERS records, the City is required to pay an added 23-percent of reported pay to PERS each month. While the officers' share of their monthly contribution will also rise, the long-term bump in their pension benefit will help outweigh the short-term cost they incur. The City's added cost is money out the door and actually helps to fund current and future member retirement costs.

I have no issue with Sky River wanting to hire off-duty EGPD officers. I say put them on the casino payroll or at least have the City factor in the ongoing PERS monthly contribution cost it will face as a result of this cozy relationship. 

UPDATE 11 am September 13

The City of Elk Grove's public information officer said according to the city's finance director, even though the wages paid to off-duty officers are on the city payroll, the additional income is not computed as it relates to the city's CALPERS contributions. 

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