City Nears Deal With Unions, Employees

LA MESA -- The La Mesa City Council is nearing final deals on new contracts with its fire fighters, police and other employee unions.
The agenda for Tuesday's upcoming City Council meeting includes items to approve memorandums of understanding with the employee groups.
While the deals are not completed yet, the council has scheduled a closed session prior to Tuesday's meeting at which they are expected to approve the deals hammered out by the city's negotiating teams.
While terms of the deal won't be disclosed until Tuesday, those familiar with the negotiations describe them as "status quo'' agreements.
"They are good news for all involved,'' one city official said. "I think there was good will on all sides and everyone understood where we all stood.''

City finances have been strained by a perfect economic storm -- a struggling economy spinning off lower tax revenues in both retail and property taxes and state and federal governments that have been cutting aid to cities and, in some cases, eliminating revenues cities had come to rely on.
In addition, stock market declines have added extra pension burdens on the city.

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Comment by David Smyle on June 27, 2011 at 9:58pm



And how't be able to make the meeting on Tuesday but for what is it worth, another boondoggle for the citizens who gave the city the extra sales tax to continue to pay excessive salaries and benefits to the various employees of La Mesa including the Council.  Lets see, go from 3% @ 60 to 2.5% @ 55.  Why not 2% @ 60?   Why should the current employees care?  It doesn't affect them?  Oh yeah, it is the old argument we can't attract good employees without good benefits.  Yeah right.  If that was the case, every private large successful corporation (non-unionized) would have the same benefit package and they don't!  Why should the council get a pension?  Helix Board doesn't!  Why should a "Part Time" Council get 85%-95% of their medical benefits paid for by the citizens?  Time for term limits!  Too many fat cats too interested in their own pockets with a clear conflict of interest when it comes to negotiating benefits.  I see the tax payers still are paying 95% of an employees medical and 85% of employees and dependents.  Glad you were able to save the tax payers money there Council, NOT!  Of course with premiums going up, the tax payers get the shaft again.  You won't find that in the private sector.  In fact, I have had several job offers recently and one paid 100% of employees medical and 0 of dependents while the other paid 2/3 of employee medical and 0 dependents.  Why do Cities and Special Districts have to be the NY Yankees of employee benefit packages?


And how about those 13 days of paid Holidays including Admissions Day (whatever that is) and Cesar Chavez Day.  Maybe you could have taken those away City Council and saved the tax payers a little money.


Interesting how the City of Santee who have the same amount of population as La Mesa and no car dealerships can survive and thrive without the extra .75% sales tax increase we got bamboozled to pass.  As far as I can see, The City is doing very little to curb employee expenses except not hire more people we don't need anyway.  Don't get me wrong.  I like our employees.  They are very nice people and I have no beef with them.  But I am a tax payer and those employees should pay a fair share of their benefits and have a reasonable benefit package.   Why are we not laying people off and outsourcing jobs to the private sector in areas that make sense to do so?  We know the private sector can do many jobs cheaper.


In the end like Russell points out, no plan in is place to address the $32M pension liability which will bankrupt us in the end when the State no longer gives the Cities money because they need it for their own pet projects and to pay the Prison Guards and Cal Trans workers.


Thanks City Council for making no great strides in getting our labor costs in line with the real world.  You will leave a great legacy.

Comment by Russell Buckley on June 27, 2011 at 1:25pm
Batman (why are you unwilling to use your name?) The idea that every city needed to chase the others to see who could pay highest, pushed by city employee unions and organizations, is a significant part of what got us into this mess. There is no reason that municipalities (or water districts) should pay any more than market rates -- like the private sector does.
Comment by Steven S. Kane on June 24, 2011 at 1:33pm
I am glad to hear that the result of the secret contract talks is "good news for all involved," but I wonder if "all involved" includes the citizens and voters who will have to pay the bill for the agreement.  I look forward to seeing the actual agreement to determine why it is "status quo" when revenue is declining.  Will city employees share the pain of the downturn, or, will they continue to be an elite group sheltered from the financial difficulties that those of us in the private sector cope with every day?
Comment by Russell Buckley on June 24, 2011 at 1:29pm
Another thing that is status quo is the City's $32 million unfunded pension liability. I have asked, more than once, for our elected representatives to let us know their plan for dealing with it. It costs the city a considerable amount of money every year that it is allowed to remain unpaid. As best I can tell the Council's plan is serendipity. The pension problem wasn't just an act of God out of the control of the Council. The extravagant increases in public sector pensions voted in by our Council, retroactively, only a few years ago left the taxpayers unnecessarily exposed. We are paying the price in enormously higher pension costs and taxes. Little has been done to reduce taxpayer exposure. I challenge the City Manager or any of the council members to let us know how they intend to deal with both the $31 million liability and the risk they obligated the public for.

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