Cloverdale’s city employee groups have reached agreements on new labor contracts that for the first time will require the city’s 42 employees to pay a portion of the costs of their medical and retirement plans. “These agreements are a reflection of that (employee) commitment and a recognition of the financial constraints the city is facing,” Mayor Gus Wolter said.
Cloverdale expects to have a slight surplus in its $5.2 million general fund at the end of this budget year. But over the next five years, the forecast is for growing deficits each year. For a city with only a token reserve fund of $30,000, it’s a sobering picture. “It’s a cautionary tale,” City Manager Nina Regor said.
Santa Rosa city employees laid off next year will get a less generous benefits package. Under a plan approved Tuesday by the City Council, laid-off workers will get one week off to look for work, one year of financial counseling to help them through their transition to a new job and a smaller COBRA health-care benefit.
In 2007, Rohnert Park officials cut in half the amount the city needed to cover the costs of medical benefits it offered retired employees. Overnight, the city’s unfunded liability went from $56 million to $27 million – at least on paper. But that gain has since evaporated. Today, the unfunded liability stands at $53.2 million – principally because the city failed to start putting away money it had promised its retirees and current workers.
First, Cotati police officers agreed to pay more for their retirement and medical benefits. Now, the city’s police sergeants have agreed to do the same. The deal, which creates a two-tier retirement system with lower benefits for new employees, will be voted upon Wednesday by the City Council.
UPDATE 4:10 PM: In a development likely to frame labor talks in other cities, Cotati police have agreed to a two-tier pension system and to begin contributing toward their pension plans and medical benefits. It is certain to be watched closely across the region, both by cities struggling to cut costs and by police and fire unions that fought long and hard to get the most generous pensions in the public sector.
A controversial cost-savings move by the county has reduced its commitments for funding retiree medical care by $15 million this year, according to a new report. The change, which resulted in many retirees paying bigger shares of their medical coverage premiums, is good news for the money-strapped county budget. But it comes at the expense of many retirees who still resent the financial burden on their family budgets.