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Pressure Mounting To Reform San Diego City Pensions

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The pressure is mounting on San Diego City Council to reform its guaranteed pensions. The latest analysis shows some retired city employees make considerably more after they retire than they did while they were working.

The pressure is mounting on San Diego City Council to reform its guaranteed pensions. The latest analysis shows some retired city employees make considerably more after they retire than they did while they were working.

Marcia Fritz of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility joined San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio to call attention to some of the highest pension benefits. The analysis shows at least eight former city employees, including two assistant city attorneys, a fire chief and a head librarian, make between $200,000 and $300,00 a year in retirement. The salaries for these positions are between $90,000 and $170,000.

Fritz pointed out these city retirees draw on four different retirement funds. She said she found it outrageous to see the level of the pension benefits compared to the level of salaries for people still working productively for the city.

“You can see by this analysis, it’s fiscal folly for these people to continue to work when they can make this kind of money being retired.” she said.

The analysis found another disturbing factor. Fewer than 40 percent of city retirees still live in the city, and almost 20 percent have moved out of state, and are no longer contributing to the tax base.

Fritz said it is difficult to get pension reform at the state level. She said while state politicians do not get a state pension for their work in the legislature, many of them draw on pensions they earned while serving at the local level, and are reluctant to make changes.

San Diego City Council members have the most generous pension benefits in the city.

Almost 40 percent of their salary is contributed towards their pensions each month. The city pays most of that. The municipal code caps how much elected officials contribute to less than 9 percent. But city councilmembers pay much less than that. The city also “picks up” more than half their share. That leaves city council members to pay just about 3 percent of their salary towards their own pensions.

The council is scheduled to vote today to eliminate the city’s “pick up” contribution.

San Diego City police and fire employees have already agreed to give up the city’s “pick up” of their pension contributions.

Councilman Carl DeMaio says he, like Republican Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, wants to see public employees get 401K pensions like the private sector. However Marcia Fritz says she is in favor of keeping guaranteed benefit pensions for public employees, but with employees making bigger contributions to their own pensions.

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