TURLOCK -- Former City Manager Tim Kerr said Monday he wants nearly $50,000 from the city, claiming it failed to pay the retirement benefits guaranteed in his contract.
On April 7, Kerr filed the claim, which he said was denied by the City Council on April 28, as is the usual practice. Kerr said he is "probably inclined" to file a lawsuit.
"It's pretty cut and dry," Kerr said. "There's nothing in the contract to say the city has the ability to cherry-pick what they will and won't pay."
Kerr said he has six months to decide if he wants to sue.
City Attorney Phaedra Norton said in an e-mail that it was against her policy to comment on potential litigation.
Kerr said the city required him to take his $181,000 severance package in a lump sum, rather than spreading it out in a monthly payment schedule of salary and benefits. He said Norton refused to authorize a $37,000 retirement benefits payment to the California Public Employees' Retirement System when his severance was paid.
Kerr said his contract required the city to pay the $37,000 into PERS. It hasn't, so if the city paid Kerr that sum now, it would be taxable income and he would owe about $12,000 in taxes, Kerr said.
"I shouldn't suffer that," he said.
So he's asking for about $49,600, which covers the pension payment amount and the potential taxes.
Kerr said three attorneys have reviewed his contract and have "all been kind of amazed the city would take this position."
Four months ago, Kerr was ousted by a 3-2 council majority. Last week, the council hired Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden to replace Kerr.
To see a copy of Kerr's letter and claim to the city, click on the link with this story at www.modbee.com/turlock.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.