City Inks Deal With Police, Employees

LA MESA – The City Council has made tentative agreements with its police and employee unions and will leave salaries unchanged from the 2010-11 contracts they have been working under.
These “status quo’’ contracts won’t raise salaries but will give these employees a $500 bonus with the possibility of another $500 if the city can end the year at least 2 percent under its expense budget.
Negotiations with the fire fighters union are continuing and are expected to be concluded prior to the council’s next meeting.
The agreements were praised by city officials as reasonable at a time when local, state and federal revenues are being threatened. Critics, however, faulted the city for not taking a tougher line on rolling back benefits, including pensions, that they say continue to exceed current private sector standards.
Russell Buckley, a regular commentator on pension issues, said the city is still not owning up to the scale of its problems.
“The changes made to this year's MOU's do nothing more to reduce our pension obligations,’’ Buckley said in a commentary filed to immediately after the council action Tuesday. “ I'm disappointed! Our city has a $31 million unfunded liability to the CalPers pension system. Our pension payments, with Social Security included, exceed $6 million - and they are projected to increase in the out years.’’

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Comment by David Smyle on June 30, 2011 at 9:29pm

Yes, the City inked a deal but who the heck is negotiating for us the taxpayers?  There weren't any major changes to reduce our pension obligations nor the rising costs of healthcare born mostly by the taxpayer.  Let's start with the second tier pensions.  Since current employees are not affected by the second tier, why didn't the City make the new pension formula 2% @ 60 vs 2.5% @ 55?  2% @ 60 (2% x the number of years worked times the highest annual salary with retirement payouts available at 60 years old) would have been closer to the 1.5% @ 60 recommended by the Little Hoover Commission.  Why don't we the taxpayers get to know why 2% @ 60 couldn't have been approved or negotiated?  I am sure it is the same old nonsense about we can't attract quality employees if we don't provide the better benefits.  The public sector has no problem offering 401Ks to attract the best employees?  There is no shortage of qualified people looking for work.  While 2.5% @ 55 is some improvement, it did not go far enough in an area no current employee should have a problem with.


Now lets get to the other benefits not touched by the City.  An employee still only pays 5% of their own medical benefits and only 15% when covering their dependents.  We all know health care premiums have gone up over 30% and the taxpayers are going to pick up 85%-95% of that increase.  The public sector routinely either offers no coverage for dependents and makes the employees pay 50% of the premiums for dependents.  When covering employees by themselves, it is not uncommon for the employee to pay 25% to 33% of their own coverage.


No changes to the amount of sick time, or holiday pay which are both excessive compared to the private sector.  Employees get "13 Paid Holidays!!!  This is even more excessive than the outrageous Helix Water District Holiday schedule.  Included in the lucky 13 is Admissions Day.  Who celebrates Admissions Day?  Cesar Chavez is another day off.  With the need for more efficiency, wouldn't the citizens benefit more from two more work days?  Of course since no one else celebrates these days with time off, the City just makes them floating Holidays for the employees.  Lets just call them what it is.   Extra vacation time without actually calling it vacation.


We won't even get into why the part time City Council should qualify for pensions and the same benefits a full time employee gets.


They City made its case to the citizens to vote for an increase of .75% in sales taxes which only went to pay for employees salaries and benefits.  Interesting how Santee, a City with the same population as La Mesa can not only get by but flourish without raising its sales taxes and this without any car dealerships (La Mesa has 3 new and numerous used).  How is Santee doing it?  Maybe it is time for La Mesa to start sub contracting out some of its services and reducing its number of employees which has not changed much over the last several years.


Looking at the elections in 2012, one can only be disappointed that none of the pre-announced City Council candidates including Jim Wieboldt or Laura Lothian had anything to say about either the Helix Water District of the La Mesa Employee MOUs.  Guess they don't want to be controversial or maybe they are afraid to take a stand or maybe they are happy with the way things are.  Given the failure of all the candidates to speak up about the HWD or La Mesa MOUs, I think we need a brand new field come next November.  Russell Buckley, we need you!

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