Council to Vote Wednesday on Retirement Reform Ballot Measure

Pensions make up 18 percent of the city's expenses and the number is expected to double by 2014.

The Los Angeles City Council postponed until Wednesday a decision on whether to put a measure on the March 2011 ballot that would ask voters to scale back the retirement pay of future Los Angeles police officers and firefighters.

The council opted for the delay after several amendments were introduced at the last minute, and City Administrative Officer Miguel said he needed to time to review the proposals.

According to the city's budget analysts, pensions make up 18 percent of the city's expenses this fiscal year, and the number is expected to double by 2014.

State law hinders officials from reducing the pensions of existing employees, but a ballot measure can be used to scale back the retirement pay of future police officers and firefighters.

Police officers and firefighters who retire at age 50 with 20 years of service currently are eligible to receive a minimum pension that is equivalent to 50 percent of their average salary during their final year at work.

Under the proposed ballot measure, sworn personnel with 20 years of service would be entitled to a pension equivalent to 40 percent of their average salary over their last two years of employment.

Both plans allow a maximum pension of 90 percent after 33 years of service. However, sworn personnel would reach that milestone at a slower pace under proposed ballot measure.

A police officer or firefighter currently can receive a pension of 65 percent after 25 years, and 80 percent after 30 years.

Under the proposed ballot measure, they would instead earn a 55 percent pension after 25 years; and 75 percent after 30 years.

Also, the proposed measure would require sworn personnel to contribute 2 percent of their salary toward their post-retirement healthcare. Currently, they contribute 9 percent toward their pension, but nothing toward their healthcare after leaving the force.

The ballot measure would apply to police officers and firefighters hired on and after July 1, 2011.
 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us