The Good, the Bad, and the Costly

The Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal The Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal 2 Comments


The San Diego County Taxpayers Association recently took a look at the new labor agreements approved in a number of cities within San Diego County setting terms for wages and pension benefits as part of new budgets for this fiscal year. SDCTA reviewed these new agreements to determine how they stack up against their pension reform recommendations. Better them than me, as they’re way smarter.

So, did taxpayers get a good deal or a bad deal? A little of both. Here with the permission SDCTA, we share The Good, The Bad, and the Costly. Clint, will you do the honors?

Cue Sergio Leone...

An aside: Clint Eastwood is a card-carrying poliwonk and declared himself a Libertarian (true, in 1997). He served as the elected Mayor of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California from 1986 to 1990. He knows his way around a spreadsheet.

The bad… or who went For A Few Dollars More:

City of Coronado

The City of Coronado last week approved a new two-year contract for its 27 firefighters.  The contract requires these employees to begin paying their required 9% of pension costs, but the City is also giving them an 8% salary increase.   Additionally, new employees will continue to be inthe most expensive “3% @ 50” retirement formula.  While the City will be experiencing minimal savings, additional savings were left on the table that would have ultimately benefited taxpayers.

City of Escondido

Last week, the City of Escondido approved a new two-year contract for their maintenance and operations workers.  These employees will begin contributing the remaining 7% of their required pension contribution. New employees will pay into a more conservative “2% @60” retirement plan. So far, so good. But this new contract also gives employees a 4% pay increase in the first year, and another 1% increase in the second year.  It’s likely the second year increase will end up being paid from the City’s reserves.

…and the good, who saved taxpayers A Fistful of Dollars:

City of Carlsbad

The City of Carlsbad has approved a new two-year contract which requires non-safety employees to begin paying a fair share of pension costs, and establishes a lower cost “2% @60” retirement formula for new employees.  The City also established and set aside $1.4 million in a new stabilization fund to help pay for future pension cost increases from CalPERS.  Carlsbad continues to be a leader for CalPERS-contracted cities in San Diego in implementing pension reforms and controlling increases in pension costs.

City of El Cajon

The City of El Cajon will require employees in two of the city’s working groups to pay a greater share of their pension costs over the next two years.  By January 2013, the city will have stopped paying the employee pension contribution, meaning that employees in these two groups will be paying their full fair share.

City of Oceanside

The City of Oceanside will require its employees to contribute an additional 2.5% to their retirement beginning this July, and another 2.5% beginning in January 2012.  The City will also establish a lower cost “2% @60” retirement formula for new hires.

City of Lemon Grove

Last week the Lemon Grove City Council voted to create a lower cost retirement plan for new non-safety employees using the “2% @60” formula.

City of San Marcos

City councilmembers and senior staff will begin paying 4% of their pension costs effective July 1, 2011.

There isn’t another organization in Sn Diego County offering up this kind of information and analysis on behalf of taxpayers. Not even close. A tip of my wallet to SDCTA and its supporters including the members, sponsors, and board whose contributions make this sort of work possible.

Disclaimer: The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a client of my public relations firm, Falcon Valley Group.



Comments 2

  1. This article makes grand assumptions – the indepth analysis would show that in Escondido, for example, the firefighters already pay their full 9% contribution. Public safety is the majority of the budget so this is a huge savings. Looking at only one minor part of a city’s employee group does not show the entire picture.

    Also, what about pay scales in Oceanside, San Marcos, etc vs. other cities. Seems to me some cities are starting at a higher pay scale at the time of implementing pension reform.

    But thanks for the article – it is a snapshot, but not the whole story.

  2. Post

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