Mayors, Aldermen Quitting Early For More Money

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(DeSoto County, MS) Olive Branch Mayor Sam Rikard started gradually moving out of office when he decided earlier this year not to run for another term.

One of the few things left; a countdown clock that sits on a shelf behind his desk.

He’s due to leave office as his successor, Scott Phillips, is sworn in July first.

But the mayors of Southaven and Horn Lake say they’re going early to bump up their retirement.

Outgoing Southaven Aldermen are set to do the same thing.

Voters don’t seem to like the idea.

”I’m not sure it’s a good idea. It just seems like they’re trying to get more money.” said Wanda Stark of Southaven.

Technically, they are. Mississippi adds a cost of living “bump” to retirees in a so-called 13th check each year.

Since the Southaven and Horn Lake mayors plan to quit June 28th, they’ll get a check this December, and interest will start compounding then.

Rikard, on the other hand, will wait. His “13th check” won’t come until December 2014. Over time, he stands to lose thousands of dollars, but says he’s staying in office on principle.

”I was elected to serve a four-year term and that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna cut it short by two days. It would benefit me, yes," he said.

And with dozens of years in the State retirement system, both Greg Davis and Nat Baker say that’s exactly the point.

The mayors in Southaven and Horn Lake tell me their decisions to retire before the swearing-in on July 1st is purely a financial decision and has nothing to do with voters putting them out of office.

Mayor Rikard admits there’s a strong financial incentive: ”First year, 700 or so dollars, second year 15 to 16-hundred dollars annually, but I’m just not gonna do it. It just didn’t feel right”.

Fortunately, Rikard, who has less time in the State system as the others, will have other income from his previous job with the phone company.

That would appear to make his decision a little easier, but Mayor Rikard says bottom line, for him, it was just the right thing to do.