Police, fire sign 3-year contracts

ESCONDIDO — The City Council approved a three-year memorandum of understanding with the Escondido Police Officers’ Association and the Escondido Firefighters Association on Jan. 24.

The three-year contract runs through Dec. 31, 2020, and allows for the employees to contribute more toward health care premiums. In addition, the employees and city will share increased costs for future medical care, according to the staff report.

This provides the framework for cost sharing and for jointly addressing and avoiding future increases, the report states.

For the police union, the council also approved a budget adjustment appropriating $256,005 to cover increased contract costs. The cost to the General Fund for fiscal year 2018-19 is $503,185, while the total cost over the three years of the contract is $1,935,235.

“That $111,000 would come within from other savings,” Councilwoman Olga Diaz said.

“I think the key point here is that council maintain a balanced budget and address the CalPERS unfunded liability issues,” City Manager Jeff Epp said. “Those were two of the city’s key goals. These two contracts need not stand in the way of those goals.”

As for the firefighters, a budget adjustment of $111,870 was approved to cover their increased contract costs. The fiscal year 2017-18 General Fund operating budget did not allocate funds for the increase, but the report states budget savings at year-end will cover the costs.

In total, the cost for the General Fund fiscal year 2018-19 is $178,865 and for the three yeas is $445,400. The council approved both MOUs during its Dec. 7 meeting.

Fire association members and city staff also framed this agreement to help address the long-term budget impacts as a result of CalPERS pension liabilities, according to the report.

“Both parties understand the importance of reducing the CalPERS unfunded liability,” the report reads. “To assist in reducing the CalPERS unfunded liability, the City is in the process of preparing a Section 115 Irrevocable Pension Trust for adoption by City Council.”

The report states the firefighters association will begin cost sharing the employer’s CalPERS contribution up to 3 percent over the term of the agreement. Currently, Classic CalPERS Safety members are contributing 9 percent of their salary toward the employee’s retirement benefit.

By the end of this contract, Classic CalPERS Safety members will be contributing 12 percent toward their CalPERS retirement benefit.

The Escondido Fire Department provides critical public safety actions for the city. The agreement focuses on a median salary for these personnel based on other entities in San Diego. A decent median-based salary level, combined with other terms and conditions of employment, create an excellent working environment for these individuals, according to the report.

As for the police, by the end of the contract, Classic CalPERS Sworn members will be contributing 12 percent toward their CalPERS retirement benefits. This will greatly assist both parties in addressing the CalPERS cost, particularly unfunded liability.

Like the firefighters, the police will begin cost sharing the employer’s CalPERS contribution up to 3 percent over the term of the contract. Currently, police are contributing 9 percent of their salary toward retirement.

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