Friday, June 1, 2012
Imagine San Diego spending thousands of dollars to train eligible firefighters, but they ultimately leave the city because they will be better paid and benefited elsewhere. That’s the scenario firefighters envision if Proposition B is passed.
On Friday, firefighters came out against the pension reform proposition.
Frank De Clercq, president of the San Diego Fire Fighters IAFF Local 145, said he hopes citizens vote no on Proposition B.
“There is no savings in this for the citizenry,” he said. “The tax payers in fact are going to spend more money.”
He said firefighters have gone eight years with no real salary increase, which has saved the taxpayer $1.6 billion.
“Everything that’s saved is when we meet at the table,” De Clercq said. “We have negotiations and we’re reasonable.”
However, Lani Lutar, CEO and President of the San Diego Taxpayers Association, said Proposition B will save taxpayers close to a billion dollars over the coming years.
“Proposition B is fair to both taxpayers and the employees,” she said. “Labor union leaders like to put scare tactics out there on reasons that it shouldn’t be supported, but in reality Proposition B by saving the taxpayers money will allow for a sustainable city of San Diego which is ultimately going to be good for both taxpayers and the workers.”
She said without Proposition B, pension costs will increase by $100 million over the next 10 years.
“We are confident that it will only ensure that the city of San Diego will be in a much more fiscally sustainable position and actually allow for the city to be able to hire more employees in the future because they won’t have the wild fluctuation in pension costs like it currently has right now,” Lutar said.
Secretary-treasurer Alan Arrollado with the San Diego Fire Fighters IAFF Local 145 said right now it’s difficult for firefighters to leave the city because they have pension security, but if Proposition B passes, they will have hard decisions to make.
“As we weaken those types of benefits, it makes it easier and easier for firefighters to leave,” he said. “You’re not leaving pension security behind, you’re picking up your 401(k) and going somewhere else to get better pension security.”
“We’re confident voters will overwhelmingly support it on Tuesday and we’re excited for the future of San Diego and what that holds with the passage of Proposition B,” Lutar said.
“Ultimately the citizens appreciate what we do, we’re professionals, we’re here to serve them and we’d ask them to be smarter than this sham of a ballot initiative that’s out there,” De Clerq said.
Proposition B on Tuesday’s ballot would freeze the base pay of current city employees for five years, but it would also change the city of San Diego’s retirement fund from pension to a 401(k) system. The switch would apply to all new hires expect police officers.