WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa strikes pension deal with police, fire unions


Santa Rosa has struck sweeping pension agreements with its police and fire unions that are expected to save the city millions in coming years.

The tentative agreements, which head to the City Council on March 20, establish lower pension benefits for new workers, increase the amount employees must pay toward their pensions and institute anti-spiking provisions.

City officials have been working toward the agreements for months and are thrilled to have them in place before the budget process begins in earnest, City Manager Kathy Millison said.

“This is big for us,” Millison said. “Coming to terms this far in advance of the fiscal year allows us to work with some real numbers for our budget instead of estimates.”

She praised both employee groups for their professionalism, recognition of the city’s financial condition and no-nonsense approach to bargaining.

“In my 30 years, I’ve never experienced anything quite like this,” Millison said.

Both groups agreed to establish what is known as a “second tier” of pension benefits for new hires beginning July 1. Currently, police and firefighters can retire at age 50 with 90 percent of their salary for life if they’ve put in 30 years of service. That age will be pushed back to 55 for new hires.

In addition, new hires will see their pensions calculated by a less generous formula. Instead of using the single highest salary, which is usually the final year of service, pensions for future workers will be based on the average salary of their final three years of service. This is often referred to as an “anti-spiking” provision because it prevents employees from jacking up their salary right before retirement to generate higher pension payments.

The second tier and anti-spiking provisions are expected to save the city $1 million annually for police and $800,000 for fire after 10 years.

The savings might even be greater depending on how much turnover the departments see in future years.

“I think we’re going to start realizing the savings quicker than people realize,” Millison said. “We’re going to see some turnover in the next two or three years of our senior staff in these departments.”

The police contract is a new two-year contract. The fire deal is an addendum to an existing contract extended last year to 2013.

A major component of both deals is that both groups agree to begin paying more toward the cost of their pensions.

In addition to its own contributions to the California Employee Retirement System, the city has for years also been paying the employees’ contributions, equal to 9 percent of their salary. This is known as Employer Paid Member Contribution, or EPMC.

Last year, in exchange for 6 percent raises they were promised over two years, the city’s 123 firefighters agreed to by next year pay 5 percent of their salary toward their pensions. The addendum requires new hires to begin paying the entire 9 percent.

Similarly, city’s 140 police officers are now agreeing to pay the 9 percent that the city had been paying on their behalf. And like the firefighters, they’ll get raises to help them do that.

The city has agreed to 8 percent salary increases to offset the 9 percent pension payments employees will begin making. That represents a 1 percent savings for the city. But it actually works out to more because the city gets out from under additional EMPC-related payments that amount to about 3.5 percent of salary, Millison said.

The change is expected to save the city $631,000 over the two-year contract and approximately $8,400 annually for each new hire.

In addition, the police union agreed to lower the entry level salary for new officers by 5 percent, replacing a five-step system with a six-step one. That’s expected to save $5,500 annually for each new hire.

Finally, police agreed to lower a lump-sum payment for holiday pay they get every December, producing a savings of $300,000 over the contract.

“We understand that these are tough economic times and something needed to give,” said Allan Schellerup, president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association.

The police vote was strongly in favor of the deal. The fire vote was closer, said Jack Thomas, president of Santa Rosa Firefighters IAFF Local 1401, who called it “a very emotional vote.”

Some firefighters just don’t like the idea of creating a second group of employees who will be doing the same work for lower compensation. Overall, however, the group agreed the concessions were wise.

The lower benefits for new workers was palatable to some because few new workers actually get hired at a young enough age to be able to retire with full benefits before 55 anyway, Thomas said.

“I felt like it was a fair thing for us to do,” Thomas said. “And I think is saves the city quite a bit of money.”

The city won the right to implement a two-tier system for most of its workers earlier this year following a lengthy appeal by one group. The city remains in discussion with those groups on that and other issues, Millison said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@ pressdemocrat.com.

61 Responses to “Santa Rosa strikes pension deal with police, fire unions”

  1. David Stubblebine says:

    Public employees deserve the CalPERS type of retirement because they negotiated for it. The assumption that seems to run through these posts is that public employees get their salaries and then the taxpayers are forced to fund their pension contributions on top of that. I don’t see it quite that way. If a worker gets $1,000 in salary but then negotiates to get $900 in salary and have $100 go toward his retirement, it’s the same $1,000 to the employer. That’s how the pension plans came into being, as a component within the salary package not in addition to it, and that is how it remains. Many private unions negotiated similar deals back in the day but the workers’ trust was violated when those funds were raided and they went broke (Teamsters, UAW, Airlines, etc.).

    Public employees negotiated to have part of their wage packages go toward their retirements and that’s why they deserve it. For a long time, they were eligible for their CalPERS retirements AND Social Security, so by opting out of SS they eased the burden on the taxpayers for that component of the wage packages.

    And let’s get part of the discussion back on track. When public funds are paid out as wages they become private funds. So, in very a real sense, CalPERS is not a public pension system at all but publically administered private funds; funded through the wage and benefit packages. When we read that the CalPERS fund is valued at $235B, that is not $235B of taxpayer money but private funds administered by the public. And it is still a bit misleading to say “administered by the public” because the cost of administering the fund is borne by the fund, not the taxpayer. When CalPERS raises an employer’s rates, it should be thought of as a wage increase traceable back to the contract negotiations where that retirement contract was enacted. Similarly, when CalPERS lowers an employer’s rates, it should be thought of as a salary concession. Politicians never spin it that way though; when the rates go up, “it’s THEIR fault” but when the rates go down “WE’RE brilliant.”

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  2. BigJim says:

    @ David Stubblebine

    David you make a great point – we need to let public workers have 401k’s and let Calpers manage them. You for one would be better off, and I as a taxpayer would not have to pay a fortune in repayments and interest on Bonds (loans) to fund your retirement, nor would I be liable for the shortfalls of the “great” Calpers. Its a “win-win”, I like it. This is the first time I have heard a union beneficiary state something that makes sense.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  3. Money Grubber says:

    Any public employee on here care to explain, briefly, why you should not have social security like everyone else rather than public pensions?

    If social security is good enough for the vast majority of the private sector workers, I say SS is good enough for the public employees.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  4. GAJ says:

    @John the Federal Employee Retirement System has plenty of employees in Public Safety who will retire at 62 with about 1/2 their highest years’ salary if they worked 30 years.

    Around here Public Safety can retire at about 50% of their salary after about 15 years and start collecting in their early 50′s.

    That’s just plain ridiculous.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  5. John says:

    Definition of unfunded liability:

    The amount of money that would be needed to pay for all employees currently retired AND working IF all those currently working were to retire TODAY!

    So think of it like this. If the banks came to your door today and demanded ALL of what you owe for your house, car, credit cards, etc… That would be Your personal “unfunded liability”. Chances are that it works with your long term financial plan but you couldn’t afford it all if it needed to be paid Today.

    It can appear REALLY SCARY except it is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!

    @ GAJ – You said “That people are “worn out” at 60 is a silly premise.” Again, it depends on what those people did for their life. Injuries are cumulative so to make a statement like “Tons of 60 year olds around here using chain saws, splitting wood, running marathons, doing Levi’s GranFondo etc. etc. etc.” does not make a meaningful premise either. Then you claim that a 90% cap is ridiculous but link an article that says most people don’t reach 90%. But you want the retirement age to be 60 which would probably make more people reach that 90%. Then ‘Reality Check’ links some articles on injuries from 2005 to 2009 which is after the 50 year old retirement age was instituted. All this shows is that those healthy enough to work PAST 50 … Were Still Healthy. The retirement age of 50 allows public safety employees to be able to say “I can’t do this anymore” and retire before they are permanently disabled. Otherwise the percentage of people retiring at 90% of pay would be 100%. If 3% per year were so “Lucrative” for these types of jobs then why aren’t people staying longer into their late 50′s and 60′s to get those extra 3% increments? The answer is what is not said in all of your links. You have to ask ‘what’s being left out’, and why?

    Graeme nailed it on the head.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  6. Joseph Donegan says:

    “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

    — James Madison

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  7. David Stubblebine says:

    As for Tracy’s “correction” to my earlier post here: it took me a while to gather the data, but I had it right the first time – more right than I thought. I reconstructed my own career with about two-thirds real data and “low-ball” estimates for the gaps. Had I contributed the same amounts to a 401k at the same times; and had the fund earned what CalPERS earned during the same years; and if the fund earns just under 6% from this point forward (during these lean times CalPERS is projecting 7.25% and has actually earned 8.4% over the past 20 years); and if I now drew only the fund’s interest; then I would be forced to live on a pension of 12% OVER my last year’s salary instead of my actual pension which is quite a bit less. My pension is no longer any burden to the taxpayers, now or in the future – I am off the books.

    The unfunded liabilities we hear so much about 1) represent the unfunded portions of FUTURE retirees not current ones and 2) are artificially inflated & flawed in the first place, Little Hoover & Joe Nation notwithstanding.

    If I could have based my retirement on a 401k, which did not exist until many years after I started, then I would be making more in retirement than I am. Except that I could not have done it that way because I could never have invested my individual 401k fund as lucratively as the giant CalPERS fund. This is the precise target of those behind the pension-bashing – to open the large fund to the fund raiders and force the workers to take their individual 401k’s to the brokerage houses run by the very same fund raiders. That way they get rich at both ends. If people want to envy wealth, look at those guys!

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  8. David Stubblebine says:

    I was wondering when someone would take the bait from “Just a Thought” and I see “MoneyGrubber” finally did. Just a Thought’s posts are irrelevant. As a group, police are good people, not perfect people. Within the group, some live up to that standard better than others and some not at all. A few are downright crooks, as Just a Thought is so eager to point out, but so are some bankers and some fishermen and some plumbers. The problem here is the implication that a few isolated instances describes anything relevant about the group. This process is the exact definition of a generalization and is considered flawed logic.

    Graeme’s post of March 11th has captured the tone of these posts quite well – wealth envy pure and simple.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  9. Stephen Radeljic says:


    It looks like CalPERS has something closer to $225 billion banked….not $352 billion…


    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  10. Money Grubber says:

    Graeme Wellington says “police officers are problem solvers.”


    I suggest you look at the posts from “Just a Thought” with regard to example after example of felony criminal police officers. Those people are solving any problems. They are criminals.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  11. Graeme Wellington says:

    As far as funding, CalPERS has 352 billion banked. Not much chance of funding failing for a while.

    As far as cities spending more than they have, we’re back to what I said before. Why can’t they balance a budget using the enormous sums of money they already take in?

    When the police and fire contracts were signed, the contracts included a promise that the funds would be set aside to cover future retiree medical costs. The problems happening now WERE contemplated when the contracts were signed. The problem is that the city governments broke their promise and didn’t set the money aside and spent it on their own pet projects instead.

    The problem is our politicians can’t budget which is their primary job. Don’t hate the cops or the firefighters or blame them.

    The blame lies squarely on the politicians who broke promises deliberately and spent money they shouldn’t have.

    The public keeps re-electing the same people. Sonoma County… IT’S YOUR FAULT!

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  12. GAJ says:

    Money Grubber, as you know in the other thread where Bear “called out” others to give their backgrounds to prove they had the “qualifications” to have an opinion I called his bluff and provided mine.

    He never responded in kind which shows what kind of cloth he’s cut from.

    Perhaps it was a mere oversight and Bear can provide that information now.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  13. GAJ says:

    John, no contradiction whatsoever.

    It supports my argument that any meaningful change would be to move the retirement to 60, not 55, and that Public Safety employees are not “washed up” at 50 or even 55.

    90% of pay is still ridiculous…even at 60.

    I advocate following the FERS guidelines for vesting which would put a 30 year employee closer to 50% of pay.

    But I’m guessing you think the FERS guidelines for Federal employees are an insult to State and Local employees and the 2 million+ employees are being taken “advantage” of.

    How in the world do the Feds hire anyone in California with such benefits?

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  14. BigJim says:

    Think the Police care about Serving and Protecting, or just maintaining bankrupting levels of pay and benefits? Well just look at Stockton to see the answer:

    From ABC news today:”Deis also faults the city’s generous retirement plan, which includes free health care. Stockton expects to spend $9 million on health benefits for retired workers next year, more than it pays for current employees. The city’s is carrying a $417 million unfunded liability for retiree health care over the next 30 years.

    The police union, the Stockton Police Officers Association, is fighting to stop the city from defaulting on its promises. The union bought the house next to Deis’, a move President Steve Leonesio said was a coincidence.

    With staffing down by 25 percent, the department can no longer man its main station, Leonesio said. Yellow caution tape fluttered around the building’s entrance on a recent weekday. A vandal had smashed out the glass doors. Last year, someone shot at the building from a car, stippling the brick wall with bullet holes.

    The crime-prone city saw a record 58 murders last year. Police no longer look for stolen cars or take reports for lower-level crimes.”

    The Police would rather see that city go down in flames than reduce wages and benefits to allow more police to be hired. It makes me mad to see their callousness.

    How long before we see the same thing here? Think it can’t happen? Why did the democrats rush to pass AB506 to prevent cities from declaring bankruptcy without first going through lengthy and expensive arbitration?

    This agreement continues all the current abuses, such as spiking and paying police to get dressed for the current workers – it doesn’t even start to solve the problem, it just discriminates against younger workers.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  15. Reality Check says:

    Yep, most employees don’t accrue 30 years of service. Most employees transfer in from other jurisdictions, change careers, retire before reaching 30 years of service. So what?

    They accrue 3% per year, making it about the most generous pension on planet earth. A 25 year employee receives “only” 75%, and that’s 75% of what’s likely a spiked final year of pay.

    The generosity of the pension is not to be denied, I think. More important, far more important, is its inadequate funding. Promise today, pay the bill tomorrow funding is just plain wrong. And pretending that we can count on 8% stock market returns to, sort of, make it all work for free is bogus. Yet, a whole class of civic leaders bought the line.

    We are dodging the issue here. It’s the unfunded part of the pension promise that’s the problem. And the bill’s coming due. Otherwise we’d still be living blissfully in la-la land.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  16. John says:

    @ Graeme – Great post. To follow up here is a quote from GAJ’s earlier post that supports your statement. Thanks GAJ. You’ve managed to contradict yourself again.

    “Cal PERS found that the average age of entry for people who got 3% at 50 was 28. Overall just 34% of public safety officials accrued 30 years or more of service…”

    “…and almost all of them retired after the age of 53. In fact only 1% of safety employees retire at age 50 with a benefit of 90% of final compensation”

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  17. Money Grubber says:


    You routinely ask other people what they did for employment and yet you repeatedly refuse to disclose what YOU did for employment other than to admit being a public employee.

    So, lets all ask Bear to respond to the very question he childishly asks of other people.


    And, I might add, you were never paid less than you were worth by government. You were paid far in excess.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  18. bear says:


    Because we worked with the understanding that that our LOWER THAN PRIVATE SECTOR salaries would be compensated by retirement health and pensions payments.

    You people are thieves that ought to be prosecuted for theft.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

  19. Graeme Wellington says:

    You have to work 30 years in the 3% formula to get 90 percent. The age you start and finish is relative and it’s still a tough goal to accomplish. Very few actually do. Do you know any personally?

    Some may resent paying the police a decent salary and retirement and it’s easy to do from the critic’s chair.

    You have/had the same shot to compete for the same job if you wanted that salary and retirement — but were you willing to take the risks and make the sacrifice for it? Where is the incentive for police officers? You all seem to like to be successful and the trimmings that go with it, but you don’t want to do the work or have to accept that life isn’t always fair. Some people have more ability and got some breaks. That’s life.

    Everyone loves success, but they hate successful people. What kind of reasoning goes into deciding to attack someone for being good at what they do and achieving financial success as part of the reward for that accomplishment?

    When wealth envy is expressed as resentment of the police officers themselves it’s counter-productive. Police officers are problem solvers. If you fight to pay them less and cut off their retirement benefits, you cause them a problem. They will solve the problem one way or another. They may move to another city or state. There may be layoffs or lack of expansion of police services even if it is needed. They may just use the FIDO method – which is getting pretty common these days (F it, drive on) That’s ultimately a losing game for us all.

    Wealth envy is also born of the assumption that one person can only get wealth and prosperity by taking it from another. That’s not how it works. The police officers make their money by providing a service everyone else wants. And they know how to do it better than the average person or they wouldn’t get paid what they do.

    Are the police salaries and benefits preventing you from achieving your own potential? If so, you have a right to complain. But an officer’s compensation does not mean that he/she took away your potential earnings to get it.

    Your personal success is up to you and the success of others is none of your affair.

    The comments here remind me of a quote from “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand:

    “They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it. They do not want to succeed, they want you to fail. They do not want to live, they want you to die.”

    If that is the message you want to send to government then the government will pander to that dark philosophy.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  20. Money Grubber says:


    Actually, the problem is both the 90% AND the early retirement age.

    If social security is good enough for private citizens, then its good enough for the public employees.

    Similarly, retiring at age 62 (minimum qualifying age) is good enough for social security and is good enough for public employees.

    Why should public employees get a better deal than private sector workers?

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 11

  21. The Oracle says:

    The problem is not retiring at 50 instead of 55. The problem is retiring at 90%. This is an unsustainable practice. And, as far as we are concerned, spiking is a form of looting. Someone call the police! That the city manager called this an unprecedented compromise merely shows how corrupt the public safety associations are.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  22. The Oracle says:

    So big of police and fire to agree not to let future hires loot the pension system so long as they still can. Quite telling that this is their unprecedented compromised.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

  23. Citizen says:

    Here’s a thought, You made a bad deal, now step up and pay for it. Too bad if it will cause taxes to go up, too bad. The SMART train will cause taxes to go up, the bullet train will, so the pensions will. Too bad, so sad, this state does stupid things all the time. This is no different except you have have bad guys to point fingers at. Bad guys who made a better deal than you did and now is benefiting from it. Now you wnat them to throw that good deal out the window because it is biting you in the backside. I would say the same thing they are saying, What will you give me for it? I have it, you want it back, let’s make a deal…

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

  24. Kate says:

    An 8% salary increase will now be added to the overtime calculations. How does this fit into all of the savings this deal claims for the City.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  25. GAJ says:

    Oh my, what in the world is going on?

    The Sonoma County Police Officer of the year was just announced and it is 60 year old Sebastopol Police Officer Dennis Colthurst!

    Congratulations to Officer Colthurst; I’m assuming he doesn’t buy the nonsense that he is too old and feeble to do his job properly.


    And you have to ask yourself how in the world did it come to pass that Public Safety enjoy significantly higher percentages of pay than the already overly generous amounts for other employees, (ie. 90% vs 75% caps)?

    The answer is that our dim bulb politicians bought the Union line that “Public Safety employees die at much younger ages so they deserve higher benefits.”

    That line of BS has been debunked by CalPers.

    “Their findings pretty much debunk this myth once and for all as they find absolutely no difference in the life expectancy of miscellaneous members versus public safety officials.”


    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 12

  26. Just a Thought says:



    BERKELEY, Calif. — Berkeley’s police chief has come under fire after he sent an officer to a newspaper reporter’s home in the middle of the night to demand changes to a story.

    Sgt. Mary Kusmiss knocked on Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley’s door around 12:45 a.m. Friday on Chief Michael Meehan’s orders.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

  27. Just a Thought says:

    “”"Former San Diego firefighters union Chief Ron Saathoff, who fought off state and federal prosecutions for his role in San Diego’s pension debacle, has landed a six-figure job at the union’s international headquarters.

    And he’s on his way to earning an additional pension.”"


    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

  28. Follower says:

    BAN PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS! Ban’em NOW, ban’em for good!

    We really need to stop wasting our “best & brightest” on Government & force them back into the public sector were they can produce for our society instead of draining it’s resources.

    Or we could just raise taxes on the rich until we’re ALL poor!

    “Tax the rich
    feed the poor
    Till there are no
    rich no more”

    I think they call that a “third world country”…

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 17

  29. RICHARD says:

    “Currently, police and firefighters can retire at age 50 with 90 percent of their salary for life if they’ve put in 30 years of service. That age will be pushed back to 55 for new hires.”-above
    50-30=20 How many are hired at age 20, none ?
    Citizens don’t be fooled. This changes nothing

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

  30. Just a Thought says:

    LA Times, Online

    “”"Top brass at the Los Angeles Fire Department on Friday admitted that for years the agency put out data that made it appear that firefighters were arriving at the scene of emergencies faster than they actually were.”"”


    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

  31. BigJim says:

    Mr.McCallum, this is poor reporting – the City Manager and the council are in league with these public safety unions, so both sides present this as a big boon for the city. Why not get some unbiased expert opinion from the taxpayers association or some independent body?

    When I read the headline and the first paragraphs, I at first thought there was a breakthrough, but the facts soon become apparant – the city is paying for the concessions with a whopping pay increase. This pay increase sets the basis for pensions which just grew at twice the rate of inflation! All the unions really gave up was allowing the next generation to pay for their largesse – true baby-boomers passing the buck to the next generation. It makes me sick. It also depresses me that Kathy Millison is unashmed to portray this as a big win – with wins like this, the city is doomed.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 13

  32. Just a Thought says:

    SF Chronicle online, TODAY

    (03-09) 15:38 PST RICHMOND — A former Richmond police officer pleaded guilty Friday to buying firearms for young men at his security firm and trying to derail a federal inquiry into the purchase.

    CURIOUS. NOBODY is answering me about whether these criminal cops get to keep their public pensions. And I had to laugh at the post below mine that claimed the usual lie that police pensions are high because the draw top talent / high skills. What a joke.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 15

  33. Tracy says:

    “Posted by PD staff in Cities on March 8th, 2012…”

    I guess the PD likes the quotes.

    This isn’t pension reform. Looks like this story points out the cost savings while failing to offset those savings with the rising pension and health care costs.

    David Stubblebine says, “While the funding of public pensions is something that should be monitored and discussed, it is sad to see so many self-proclaimed experts spouting off with completely inaccurate information and poorly thought out arguments. Jim says, “There is NO rational explanation why the taxpayer has to continue to pay the salary of someone who no longer works for them.” Well, he’s in luck because they don’t.”

    Not true, David. The increased contribution rates are to cover market losses for both current and retired employees. Santa Rosa’s three pension plans are severely under funded and taxpayers are being asked to increase payments to cover the shortfall Here is the funding levels and unfunded liability for each of the three plans (page 5):

    PD: funding ratio is 64.3%. The unfunded liability is 65 million.
    FD: funding ratio is 63.7%. The unfunded liability is 52 million
    Misc.: funding ratio is 7o.8%. The unfunded liability is 132 million

    Total taxpayer unfunded liability for all three plans: 249 million

    These are market value of asset numbers. The actuarial value of asset numbers are used for the purpose of setting contribution rates.

    Contribution rate history.
    PD: 2010-11 = 24.8%. 2012-13 = 29.45%. Increase of 4.65% of payroll
    FD: 2010-11 = 20.5%. 2012-13 = 27.7%. Increase of 7.2% of payroll
    (page 15)

    Average annual compensation by age (page 26).

    Disability retirements: almost as many retire on disability than do naturally (page 28).

    CalPERS investment return scenarios (page D-1).

    Link to all three of Santa Rosa’s CalPERS Actuarial Reports: http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/about/forms-pubs/calpers-reports/actuarial-reports/browse-results.xml&strCatId=2&q=santa-rosa-city

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 13

  34. Canthisbe says:

    California Refuses to Fix Public-Sector Pensions Golden State lawmakers close their eyes and pretend the looming pension crisis doesn’t exist.

    Serious people know that California faces a serious financial problem because over-sized compensation packages for the state’s public employees are consuming every public dollar in sight and imposing a long-term debt on future taxpayers.


    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

  35. GAJ says:

    Thank you Reality Check for some facts about this nonsense.

    Why State and Local government employees need to have such generous vesting is a sign of the power of money over common sense.

    The basis for vesting should be the ones used by Federal Employees, which while very generous, is a far more sustainable situation. Why anyone can’t retire on “only” 60% of pay, if not less, is beyond me.

    The vesting for them is 1.1% of highest 3 years salary; so at 30 years, that’s 33%

    There’s a Special Provision for Air Traffic Controllers, Firefighters, Law Enforcement Officers, Capitol Police, Supreme Court Police, or Nuclear Materials Couriers.

    They vest at 1.7%/year for the first 20 years and 1% thereafter so a 30 year employee would be at 44% of highest 3 years’ pay average.

    Compare that to what we pay in this State and it really makes you want to retch at the corrupt and bloated system we have.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 16

  36. Just a Thought says:

    LA Times, Online, Today

    Former CHP Officer To Be Sentenced For Murdering Her Husband
    March 9, 2012 | 8:39 am

    Can anyone tell me if these murdering cops get to keep their public pensions despite murder convictions?

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 13

  37. Reality Check says:

    Public employees claim too much credit for cooperating modestly to reduce future pension costs. Yes, they could have let the contract run. But even the densest public employee knows the political landscape has changed. Heck, even a few city officials have come around to reality.

    The blunt truth is that they gave up what they did only because they feared worse if they didn’t at least appear to cooperate.

    The other blunt truth is that 90% pensions didn’t become sustainable because employees will now pay the “employee’s share.” They remain fabricated on projected returns that are credible only to the most gullible, and politicians looking for votes.

    This “fix” will last no longer than a election cycle or two.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 15

  38. Reality Check says:


    Your comment on rapidly increasing injuries to age 50+ public safety employees interested me. One, it’s a powerful point if true; but, two, not that long ago most police and fire fighters did not normally retire in their early 50s.

    So, I read two reports on injury patterns to firefighters. Neither suggested increased injuries to post-50 age employees. Two relevant quotes:

    From a FEMA study: 13.% of firefighters are 50-59 years of age. They account for 9.5% of injuries. (2004)


    And from a 2012 report of the National Fire Protection Association:

    “For the 2005-2009 period, younger fire fighters accounted for the major portion of all firefighter injuries . . . . In all, 51% of firefighters in the U.S. are in the under 40 age group, and they accounted for 58% of firefighter fireground injuries.”


    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 15

  39. Joseph Donegan says:

    Do we really need to be paying someone without a college education in excess of $100,000.00 dollars a year. Seems having a retired Lt. as mayor has worked out well for the rank in file. Of course still unresolved is the wrongful termination suit that has cost the city millions we do not have. Some Saving?

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 17

  40. Jim says:

    How many “several million dollars” in savings are needed to cover the current $500,000,000,000 unfunded pension liability?

    Lets do some math….”several” is defined as ‘more than two’. Let’s say it is 10 for these calculations. Take the unfunded pension liability in CA $500,000,000,000 (that’s a conservative estimate) and divide it across EVERY Calpers department. Then have them save $10M/year as claimed by a poster here. Anyone want to guess how long it’ll take to cover the CURRENT unfunded liability?

    16,666,667 years. I agree, this deal is a step in the right direction.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 18

  41. Money Grubber says:

    Although we all laugh at the never ending fraudulent claim that the Sheriff’s Office needs its “bomb squad,” did anyone notice how the Press Democrat tried hard in yesterday’s article to support that silly expenditure of public money?


    A “suspicious package” was investigated by the Sonoma County “bomb squad” yet you notice that not a word was uttered in todays news because THERE WAS NO BOMB.

    How hard was it for some cop or his relative to place a “suspicious” package and then call for “help” to justify the “bomb squad’s” existence.

    Its called fraud against the taxpayer.

    Just the same as when you read of unemployed or volunteer firemen who set fires to make it appear to the public that we need more firemen than we have.

    Its called FRAUD. The “bomb squad” is an un-needed farce to justify overtime spending, “training,” and out of area “conferences” that benefit only the “bomb squad” members.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 19

  42. Graeme Wellington says:

    You hate the cops and you resent they get a good pension but you are overlooking that to retire at 50 with 90% of their salary they would have had to start at age 20 and worked 30 years. That’s pretty rare and if you actually did that kind of service you deserve the retirement. You’ve given your entire youth to public service.

    Besides, if you want to pay police peanuts and no retirement your going to get lower quality people working and inevitable corruption.

    I know you hate it, but all things considered you need to give those cops something to look forward to in retirement. It’s the only incentive they have to give a darn anymore. All the public hate directed at the cops and the envy and resentment that they (gasp) get paid $75,000 a year — all that enmity has consequences.

    Can we get some agreement that they won’t spend so much time writing CS tickets to regular citizens? How about all officers under age 25 with less than two years experience can’t write traffic tickets at all?

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 10

  43. John says:

    @ GAJ – Please show me a good, proper, safe technique for lifting a 300+ pound patient, carrying them through a narrow hall filled with junk, around corners, & down several flights of stairs to a gurney. (oh, btw-that patient is having a heart attack) So far, there just isn’t a good/safe way to do it.

    Sorry but over a career of doing this type of activity people get injured. Especially as you get older. Study the aging process. It will tell you things like tendons lose flexibility, cartilage shrinks, muscles lose mass, etc…
    The main reason to going to a retirement age of 50 was because injury rates statistically rose rapidly for safety employees over age 50. Recovery times are longer as you get older so many of these injuries became career ending. There is a HUGE cost to that!

    BTW, I’m being sincere in my initial question. If you know a way, share it!

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 11

  44. John says:

    Bay area News channel 5. Enjoy:


    You all forget or choose to ignore the fact that the 9% EPMC is/was negotiated as part of compensation ‘In Leiu’ of cash in the paycheck 10 years ago(city forced). So it’s only a raise in the sense that in 2001 it was a raise. Not now! (semantics I know but it’s still a fact) Besides, how does the city saving money cost the “taxpayers” more?

    Savings breakdown as listed in this printing:
    1 – 4.5% salary cost reduction … “save the city $631,000 over the two-year contract” (for police) That doesn’t count the savings from Fire.
    & 2 – “$8,400 annually for each new hire”
    & 3 – “expected to save $5,500 annually for each new hire”
    & 4 – “savings of $300,000 over the contract”
    & 5 – “The second tier and anti-spiking provisions are expected to save the city $1 million annually for police and $800,000 for fire after 10 years” (take note of “ANNUALLY”)

    Sum it all up it’s several million in Annual Savings. Especially when contractually we could have just taken the pre-negotiated raises. We instead chose to work with the city through good faith negotiations and relationships that have been developed over years of agreements.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 14

  45. RosesToo says:

    Meanwhile, hundreds of other City of Santa Rosa employees — whose salaries are much less than police officers and firefighters — are headed for a third straight year of furlough days and NO cost-of-living increase.

    Thumb up 33 Thumb down 5

  46. Just a Thought says:

    San Diego Union Tribune
    Today, Online

    A Fire Dept Captain, Raul Licon Jr., 38, of San Marcos is charged with six counts including lewd act on a child 14 or 15 years old, sodomy and oral copulation.

    I wonder if he gets to retain qualification for his public pension if he is convicted ???

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 16

  47. David Stubblebine says:

    Interesting response to this news item. The City Manager praised both employee groups for their professionalism, recognition of the city’s financial condition, and no-nonsense approach to bargaining; adding that in 30 years she has never experienced anything quite like this. Yet the posters still find no room to acknowledge the efforts of the labor groups. The pension situation was not created overnight and it will not be undone overnight.

    While the funding of public pensions is something that should be monitored and discussed, it is sad to see so many self-proclaimed experts spouting off with completely inaccurate information and poorly thought out arguments. Jim says, “There is NO rational explanation why the taxpayer has to continue to pay the salary of someone who no longer works for them.” Well, he’s in luck because they don’t. Pensions to retirees are not salaries and are not paid for with tax monies. Contributions are made to the pension funds during the employees’ working careers as part of wage and benefit packages and then those contributions, plus the returns on their investments, pay the pensions. Pensioners are off the City’s books once they retire. Certain other lesser retirement benefits might be paid for from the General Fund, but not pensions.

    It is true that if the pension funds go broke then the law guarantees the pensions from the Treasury, but that has never happened and it is not likely to happen any time soon (at least not in CalPERS’ case). If the situation ever gets close to needing that, the law will probably be changed before that ever happens. Besides, if the bottom falls out of the market so that CalPERS goes broke, we will all have bigger things to worry about than paying pensioners.

    And Grapevines has it right – we (the public) do not want 60 year old police officers or firemen, despite GAJ’s claim that this is a silly premise. To me, the idea of a 60 year old policeman wrestling with a 25 year old parolee or a 60 year old fireman wearing over 50 pounds of gear trying to carry me out of my burning house is a silly premise. The nature of both jobs is that it uses up people’s bodies and we should be more appreciative of that.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 16

  48. Just a Thought says:

    Retired Sheriff’s Deputy Charged With Embezzling $300K

    Thursday, March 8, 2012
    El Dorado County, CA

    I wonder if the retired cop, at age 50, and now charged with FORTY FOUR (40) felonies….

    gets to keep his public pension?

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 17

  49. Harry Callahan says:

    This move is not going to save the sinking Santa Rosa ship of state. The decks are awash and the city manager says “we can save her.”

    Problem is the gaping financial hole in the engine room letting in millions in debt (sea water) and no one has figured out how to fix the fiscal mess.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 12

  50. Jim says:

    So to pay for the 9% kick in, the police agreed to accept raises. Huh?!? So technically the taxpayer is still paying for the benefit through raises for the police and firemen. Freaking amazing.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 15

  51. taxpayer says:

    Drop in the bucket.What a joke.

    Thumb up 26 Thumb down 13

  52. GAJ says:

    Article from today explaining why the runup in stock prices of the past 30 years will not be repeated when Baby Boomers retire:

    “The problem in a nutshell: The ratio of retirees to active workers in the U.S. will balloon. As retirees sell stocks and then bonds to support themselves, there will be fewer younger investors to buy those securities, keeping a lid on prices.”


    So don’t expect CalPers and the other retirement funds to “bail” out the system by continued high returns.

    Get out your check book taxpayers.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 13

  53. GAJ says:

    @Grapevines, you underestimate what people can do at 60 these days.

    Staying in shape should be a basic requirement for Public Safety.

    Tons of 60 year olds around here using chain saws, splitting wood, running marathons, doing Levi’s GranFondo etc. etc. etc.

    That people are “worn out” at 60 is a silly premise.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 15

  54. Grapevines says:

    GAJ said “Should have moved it to 60.”

    First of all, I’m not mocking GAJ so don’t everyone take offense. What I am saying though is how effective is a policeman at chasing someone down let alone wrestling with them at age 60? And how many of us could lug a fire hose at 60?

    There is a very good reason why these jobs retire early, in order to properly accomplish them, you have to be in as good of shape as the adversary’s you face.

    Now if your admin you could work past 50 into your 60′s, but how many admin jobs are there?

    No there’s a very good reason these people retire early in life, and they have earned it if you ask me.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 21

  55. Jim says:

    Santa Rosa cops have contributed NOTHING towards their pension or medical for decades. This is a joke. The whole system should be eliminated, period. There is NO rational explanation why the taxpayer has to continue to pay the salary of someone who no longer works for them. It is ludicrous. People are paid for their time. People earn money for the work they provide, whether it be for the government or for a private company. Once they stop providing the service, they shouldn’t get paid. PERIOD. Someone explain why the taxpayer should pay a police officer to do nothing at AGE 50 (!!!) while the private sector worker has to work until 70+? Explain to me why it makes sense that police officers “retire” at 50, collect a pension and then work as bailiffs in Sonoma County courts, double dipping on the taxpayer?? NOPE…No mention of that ANYWHERE by ANYONE!

    The only reason pensions exist in the public sector is because there is a belief by the liars and thieves in government that an endless stream of money exists. WAKE UP…the cities, counties and state are bankrupt NOW. Not “in the future” but NOW!

    $500 BILLION in unfunded pension liability exists NOW. There is NO way to pay for it because the idiots in Sacramento force businesses to leave the state. The “endless” stream of money doesn’t exist.

    Slightly changing future pensions doesn’t change the current CURRENT $500,000,000,000 UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY. This is merely a propaganda piece to get the current liars and thieves re-elected. The supposed changes won’t effect the current bankrupt situation, it just is something that can be used in a political campaign. Jerry Brown conned the Sheeple with claims of pension reform. What has he done? The state is still running a deficit and he is trying to raise taxes. That’s the same old song played by every liar that lied their way to winning an election.

    All this does is kick the can down the road. The can is empty regardless of what minimal change is made. Pensions must be eliminated completely, NOW, through bankruptcy of the cities, counties and the State.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 23

  56. Just a Thought says:

    Los Angeles Times, Online:

    Ex-LAPD detective found guilty of killing romantic rival
    March 8, 2012 | 1:48 pm

    I wonder if murdering cops get their pensions?

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 21

  57. Reality Check says:

    Progress in government seems to come only in tiny steps. The smallness of these steps is the revealed in the observation that few cops are hired at age 20. So giving up full retirement at age 50 is giving up very little.

    Absent fortuitous stock market returns, this new plan leaves taxpayers still facing a heavy burden in the years ahead. Absent a significant increase in employee contributions, 90% pensions are not sustainable. Period.

    Future councils will bemoan this council’s lack of leadership. Are they all in pursuit of higher office? It appears so.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 18

  58. John T says:

    What a crock! I’d vote for this too if I were going to retire in 3 years. Do the math – I make a $100K per year, so now I make $108K, but now I have to pay $9k for my retirement. So for 3 years I “contribute” $27k to my retirement at a NET cost of $3,000. (Remember the City increased my pay by $24,000 total for those 3 years.) I’m 55, I get my 30 years in for the 90% pension. Now thats 90% of $108k or $97,200 per year.

    Under the old system they would get 90% of $100k or $90,000 in retirement.

    Under the new system, So for a net cost to the police or fire person of $3,000, they will get an additional $9,700 FOR EVERY YEAR FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

    That’s a hell of a deal in my book.

    Somebody please prove me wrong, or explain to me how this saves the pension system from going BK in the long run.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 17

  59. Canthisbe says:

    Everyone should thank the “new hires” for their generosity and willingness to share in the sacrifices of the community in these difficult economic times.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 8

  60. GAJ says:

    Tiny baby steps.

    Chapter One.

    Being able to retire at 90% salary is beyond ridiculous and makes little change by moving the age from 50 to 55.

    Should have moved it to 60.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 21

  61. Concern Taxpayer says:

    This is peanuts in savings and all they are doing is mostly shifting money around. How can you call this a real big win?

    Last year, in exchange for 6 percent raises they were promised over two years, the city’s 123 firefighters agreed to by next year pay 5 percent of their salary toward their pensions. The addendum requires new hires to begin paying the entire 9 percent.

    Similarly, city’s 140 police officers are now agreeing to pay the 9 percent that the city had been paying on their behalf. And like the firefighters, they’ll get raises to help them do that.

    The city has agreed to 8 percent salary increases to offset the 9 percent pension payments employees will begin making

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 19

Leave a Reply