|The City of Chula Vista continues its quest towards comprehensive pension reform. The City's Mid Managers and Professionals Union have agreed to voluntarily pay the entire employee share of their CalPERS retirement plans beginning January 2011. The 65 positions will experience an 8% cut in compensation to generate over $430,000 annually. This is the first bargaining group out of the City's five employee unions to agree to pension reform.
At the December 7 City Council meeting, Kirk Ammerman, board member of the Mid Managers and Professional Union, stated, "We know it will be a hardship for our members, but we understand these are hard times for all of us and those we serve. Our number one concern is to provide the highest level and quality of service we can to our citizens and businesses â€“ when they need us the most."
Until now, only the Mayor, City Council, executive staff and non-represented employees had agreed to pension reform. With the Mid Managers and Professionals joining the effort, the contributions total over $1.2 million in taxpayer savings annually.
"I greatly appreciate the leadership our mid managers and professionals are demonstrating. It shows this group of employees are fully committed to doing what is best for our community despite the difficult circumstances," said City Manager, Jim Sandoval.
"Comprehensive pension reform will obviously help our financial crisis now. But I believe this reform is imperative to this organizationâ€™s future. It is a component that must be addressed and resolved to help bring long-term stability and sustainability to our financial future," said Sandoval.
"We have met with all five employee bargaining groups, and we are willing to do so until we find solutions to the budget gap," continued Sandoval. The City has asked all bargaining unions to agree to the same three terms: 1) No further raises during their contract periods; 2) Pay full employee CalPERS contribution (9% for public safety and 8% to all other employees); and 3) agree to a second tier CalPERS retirement and health plan for future new hires.
The City's forecasted budget showed a projected $12.5 million shortfall for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. However with the defeat of Prop H â€“ the Telecommunications Users' Tax (TUT) - the City's financial situation worsened. The City is now facing an $18.5 million dollar annual deficit.
As a result, last week the City was forced to send another round of layoff notices. A total of 122 employees have been noticed of potentially losing their jobs and demotion letters have been sent to 41 others.
The City is also finalizing the list of affected public facilities to be closed. The detailed list including multiple recreation centers, city pools, a library and youth programs will be forthcoming. The City is also preparing for a reduction of Public Works maintenance services and public counter hours in Public Works, Finance and Planning. All budget reductions would begin on January 7, 2011.