County manager plans to leave job; Day says changes to state retiree laws prompt move

Day said the changes to the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) regulations that lawmakers have been making in recent years sparked his decision to leave his public job with the county, whose employees fall under PERA rules. He said the changes in the regulations affecting people who retired from one public job and now work at another are forcing him to forfeit too much money earned in his current position.

Day retired from the New Mexico State Police in 2006 after a 20-year career in which he rose to the rank of lieutenant and was the commander of the Raton State Police office that oversees officers in Colfax and Union counties. Following his retirement, Day served for six months as director of Emergency Services for Castle Pines Village south of Denver before the Colfax County commission approved his hiring as county manager in August 2007.

The latest PERA change came in a bill at this year’s Legislature. Among its provisions was disqualifying PERA retirees who are now working another PERA-affiliated job from receiving annual cost-of-living increases to their retirement benefits from the first job. PERA retirees with a second PERA job are also required to contribute both portions — employee and employer contributions — to PERA withholdings from their paychecks of the second job, money that Day said he will not get back later.

Day informed the three county commissioners individually of his decision and then announced it publicly at Tuesday’s commission meeting. After the meeting, Day confirmed he has made up his mind to leave the county post, but must discuss the timetable for doing so with his wife before pinning down his departure date. He said he expects to make a timetable decision by the end of June, before the latest PERA change takes effect with the start of the state’s new fiscal year July 1.

“We hate to see him go,” said county commission Chairman Jim Maldonado. “I think he’s done a tremendous job,” Maldonado added he believes the county has improved a lot under Day’s leadership.

Commission Vice Chairman Bill Sauble said it is “not going to be easy” to find a new county manager with the knowledge that Day brought to the job and gained during his tenure.

Maldonado — a PERA retiree after working for the county sheriff’s office, including many years as sheriff — said he understands Day’s situation. “You have to do what you have to do,” he said.