Watchdog: Don’t change police pensions back to 3% at 50

By Barbara Zivica

They dined on turkey, trying to pick the carcass clean and now remain looking for leftovers. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about elected politicians who remain in office year after year thanks to the union vote which also helps them pass tax measure after tax measure. Fortunately, some of the ones we got to vote on didn’t pass e.g. the Contra Costa Fire Department and the Contra Costa Community College ballot measures.

Others, however, did e.g. Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, increasing the sales tax from 7.25% to 7.5% for the next four years and the Antioch High School bond measure. For this reason, I suspect there will be a race to see which agency is next to propose a new parcel tax measure .

Will it be the Antioch City Council? Having just gotten an update from Police Chief Allan Cantando, I’m sure they’re already thinking about it and telling themselves that the most recent attempt to pass a parcel tax, requiring a two-thirds majority to pass, failed only because it did not guarantee the money would be used for the police department.

That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned that crimes in Antioch are up and arrests are down but the city is in the process of hiring 14 sworn officers and 6 community service officers and Pittsburg, Antioch and Brentwood will soon have their own deputy district attorney to prosecute crime. Obviously, more officers, CSOs and a deputy district attorney will have a positive affect on the current increase in crime so let’s not rush another parcel tax on the next ballot measure.

Incidentally, the Chief’s report noted that 15 sworn police officers have not been released to work full time. Some are off work completely and some are on modified duty because of an on-duty injury or other protected disability (working the front counter, records, investigations, etc.) Sound like the NFL weekly injury update? Found it interesting that one of the two lateral officers recently hired quit and returned to his last agency.

Speaking of hiring lateral officers, a staff report on the November 19th agenda from the new Human Resources/Economic Director proposes changing the September 1, 2012 contract amendment to local safety and misc. members. Reason? The City is having difficulty attracting enough candidates to fill all the vacancies, especially lateral police officers from other agencies, and thinks by going back to the old 3% at 50 full formula for safety officers and 2.7% at 55 for misc. will provide the city with an advantage to recruit quality candidates from other agencies. The report also discusses other incentives e.g. cash payment, deferred compensation contribution by city, and increased pay base.

NOTE: The new Public Employees” Pension Reform Act recently signed in California law requires ONLY EXISTING members of PERS hired after January 2013 (lateral officers) be placed in the 3% at 50 benefit tier, trainees and Academy graduate new hires be placed in a 2.7% at 57 tier.

Frankly, changing the recent contract amendment is a dumb idea. It will just mean more General Fund money going to CalPERS. Instead, the City could offer to pay into a 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, since that would not have any long term obligations to the city once the employee retired.

Should Council take action and approve the proposed Resolution of Intention to approve an Amendment to the Contract between PERS and the City, they better NOT use the increased cost as an excuse to propose a parcel tax or increase in sales tax to pay for police!

4 Comments to “Watchdog: Don’t change police pensions back to 3% at 50”

  1. karl says:

    i was ready to support a sales increase or a property tax for the police, but not anymore.
    part of what the very same council voted for to control cost, now they want to reverse it.? makes no sense to me. it looks like a good bye gift to me.
    i rather would like to see some serious action of our hr and police department to seriously hire some cops. there are 14 authorized position, so lets get it on. NOW

  2. Michael says:


    Thank you for opening my eyes to this issue. I will not be votiing for the tax increase.

    • Publisher says:

      FYI, there is no tax increase to pay for police, currently being discussed as an option, at this time.
      Allen Payton, Publisher

  3. Bob Oliver says:

    Why would the city council want to increase any employee’s retirement account so thy can run out on the job and retire at 55 years of age?
    THEY DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER. Council doesn’t realize that the more they pay an employee the sooner they don’t need the job. We need to employ people that need a job, not ones that want to retire tomorrow. Throwing money at the problem has not solved it. Past councils have been giving the store away for years and what has it got us? NOTHING. Money is worthless and so is any council that can’t see the problem is the CITY MANAGER. He keeps giving the store away.

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