Rancho Santa Margarita City Council members Jesse Petrilla and Steve Baric have already opted out of the city’s retirement plan, and if they have the option, the choice will disappear entirely for elected officials in the city.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the pair are bringing forward an ordinance that would end the benefits plan for  elected officials. Current law allows a city council member to receive nearly $1,400 per month towards benefits and more than $450 in stipends. If they choose not to use it to pay for benefits, the money can be deposited into a 457 retirement account – an account similar to a 401(k).

According to Petrilla, the policy allows a city council member to stash away as much as $66,000 during a four-year term. That money could be better used, as Petrilla told the Orange County Register to go towards police or other vital city services.

Should the measure pass, council members will still be allowed to collect the stipends.

From the Orange County Register:

Councilman Jesse Petrilla says he will ask his council colleagues on Wednesday night to forgo benefits from their part-time position that if kept could accrue to more than $66,000 in a four-year term.

Petrilla, who joined the Rancho City Council in 2010 as the election’s highest vote-getter, said he thinks it’s inappropriate to ask city staff to cut back while council members are allowed monthly benefits for their part-time position totaling $1,378.47 in addition to a monthly stipend of $463.50. These benefits, if not used for the purposes of health insurance premiums, can be placed into a 457 retirement fund similar to a 401(k) totaling $66,166.56 in a four-year term, he said.

Read the full article here.