City Council officially approves new police chief

Resident says position pay could be fair based on responsibilities
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn City Council approved the reorganization of the Auburn Police Department Monday night, and the city will soon see a new police chief. Police Chief Valerie Harris is retiring Wednesday and Capt. John Ruffcorn is expected to replace her. Ruffcorn is scheduled to make a base pay of $132,685 after a 3.15 percent reduction from $137,000, according to Andy Heath, administrative services director for the city of Auburn. All city managers are currently experiencing this reduction as part of the city’s Cost Savings Plan, Heath said. Ruffcorn is also scheduled to pay his employee portion of his CalPERS pension, which amounts to $12,014 annually, as part of the savings plan, according to Heath. According to Heath, Ruffcorn’s additional city-paid benefits are set to include $7,855 for health benefits, $32,626 for the employer’s portion of his CalPERS pension, $1,924 for the Medicare portion of FICA, $800 for a uniform allowance and $107 for the city’s employee assistant program. Ruffcorn will have a city-paid cell phone and car, but they are paid for on an as-used basis as part of the police department’s operational budget, Heath said. The restructuring of the department is scheduled to include the freezing of the captain position and the addition of an administrative sergeant position. Harris is also expected to come back as interim chief when her help is needed. Her pay is expected to be $2,551.60 per week of employment with the city, according to the city. Harris’ pension is currently unavailable until it is calculated by CalPERS, according to Heath. Heath said this reorganization is expected to save the city $120,000 annually. Ruffcorn said Monday night he feels the department’s reorganization is a wise step for the city. “The city manager and I have talked about this a great deal and flattening the organization … at the top will still allow us to provide the services our citizens are accustomed to,” he said. Ruffcorn said he believes his salary is fair and is not the reason he is doing the job. “I’m grateful to be given this opportunity,” he said. “I think if you compare not just my salary but all of the salaries of the people working in Auburn to other organizations, I think you will find they are fair and equitable. I didn’t join this profession to get rich. I joined it because I enjoy helping people and making a difference.” Auburn resident Bernadette Coelho, who lives outside the city limits, said she isn’t comfortable with Ruffcorn’s new salary. “I think that is a pretty high price, and as far as my opinion about the Auburn Police Department, I have a very bad opinion about them in general,” Coelho said. Auburn resident James Carman said Ruffcorn’s responsibilities might merit the salary. “It seems high, but that is relative,” Carman said. “I don’t know what high is nowadays, but maybe that is because of his responsibilities. It seems like Auburn has always had a good police department. We don’t have a lot of high crime.” Mayor Bill Kirby said the department will also continue not to hire a lieutenant, and that Ruffcorn’s pay will be appropriate for the job. “He’s taking over the job of the police chief and lieutenant,” Kirby said. “He’s going to be doing double duty. If you look over his resume and what he has done for the community, he is worth it. I think we are very lucky to have him in these difficult times.” Reach Bridget Jones at ----------------------------------------------------- Comparison of the Auburn and Rocklin police departments Auburn: • City population: 13,330 as of 2010 • John Ruffcorn’s police chief base salary: $132,685 • 22 sworn officers, seven support staff and 20 volunteers • Budget: $3.2 million Rocklin: • City population: 56,109 as of 2010 • Police Chief Ron Lawrence’s base salary: $164,300 • 51 sworn officers, 25 support staff and 120 volunteers • Budget: $12.5 million