Canyon County

Retirement rules ‘force’ ex-police chief to resign from Caldwell Council

Chris Allgood
Chris Allgood

With 30 years on the Caldwell police force, Chris Allgood met the “rule of 80” for full retirement benefits when he left the department’s top job Dec. 26 at age 53.

He announced his retirement plans last July and later launched a campaign for City Council, winning election in November. He was sworn in Jan. 4, nine days after officially stepping down as chief.

But after sitting on the council for just two regular meetings, he got a letter saying his retirement benefits would be halted immediately. He submitted a letter of resignation, effective Friday, saying he was “forced to vacate my seat.”

“They are requiring me to make a choice between receiving my retirement benefits and my job as a councilman,” Allgood wrote, referring to the Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho.

City spokeswoman Holly Cook said a “miscommunication” with PERSI led Allgood and the city to believe he could transition between positions as planned, without jeopardizing his retirement. Now that they have learned otherwise, she told the Stateman, the city will examine possible options.

Starting last summer, Caldwell Human Resources Director Monica Jones reportedly consulted with a PERSI representative to process Allgood’s retirement papers and answer questions.

“At no point during this transition period was Mr. Allgood or I informed that he would have to forfeit his retirement benefits once he became a city council member,” Jones said.

But when Jones called PERSI this week to find out why Allgood’s benefits were terminated, she said she learned a PERSI manager “overrode the decision” by the representative she had dealt with because Allgood did not have the required break of at least 90 days between his previous city job and his new, elected, position with the city.

Allgood’s predecessor as Caldwell chief, Bob Sobba, ran successfully for City Council the year he retired, and so did Nampa’s Curtis Homer. Both former chiefs were sworn in during January 2008, but each had retired from the police department more than three months earlier — Homer in May 2007 and Sobba that August.

In his letter of resignation, Allgood said “I will work very hard to regain my seat on the Council at some point in the future.”

Asked if the mayor might opt to hold off on appointing a new councilman until 90 days had passed since Chief Allgood’s retirement and then appoint Allgood, Cook said, “We don’t know any of the ‘what if’ scenarios ... but the legal team has recommended that the city take a few weeks to investigate before filling the vacant seat.”

“An appeal to PERSI could be an example of one of the options, but we just don’t know if that’s possible at this time,” Cook said.