By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Members of a Sebastopol employee group will now pay for their retirement costs and increases in medical premiums as part of a contract agreement reached with the city.
But in return hourly employees will work fewer hours but retain the same gross wages.
Considering the city’s financial situation as it struggles to balance a budget for next year, the new agreement is fair, said police Chief Jeff Weaver, a member of the bargaining unit.
“We think it is necessary, we think it is reasonable,” Weaver said.
The bargaining unit represents 15 employees who are not members of the city’s other two bargaining units, the Service Employee Union International and the Police Officers Association.
The police association was to vote on a tentative agreement Wednesday night. Information on the SEIU was not available.
The city has tentative agreements with all three employee groups, which will be voted on by the City Council on June 21, said City Manager Jack Griffin, who declined to give details of the agreements.
The city’s proposed 2011-2012 budget of $5,005,700 is $1.2 million less than the current budget. It includes cuts in employee compensation, a move to a 36-hour work week, less support for community groups and non-profits and funds from the city’s reserve.
Under the tentative agreement with the non-union employees, the employees will pick up the cost of the Public Employees Retirement System contributions, which are 7 to 9 percent of their salaries, and increased costs of medical plan premiums, which for families can be as much as $130 a month, Weaver said.
Wages are frozen and workers will have a 36-hour work week, but those who are on an hourly wage schedule will have their wages increased so the gross wages remain the same.
Portions of the agreement can be reopened if the city’s financial situation swings 5 percent for either the better or worse.
After three years, the number of weekly hours will be increased until they are fully restored by the fifth year of the agreement.
The bargaining unit represents the police and fire chiefs, police lieutenant, administrative services officer, building official, city clerk, public works superintendent and assistant attendant, engineering director, planner, assistant planner, account technician, a secretary and two clerical workers.