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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Retirement incentive is too much (Revised April 19)

EDITOR'S NOTE ADDED April 19: According to the letter writer, this item has been removed from the April 20 agenda.

Dear Neighbors,

From time to time, it is worth letting neighbors know about an action that the City Council may be considering. This is one that caught my attention…

BACKGROUND. The City Council has on its agenda for Monday, April 20, the issue offering city employees two years service credit to incentivize retirement. The key criteria that the City must meet according to the retirement program contract is “impending mandatory transfers, layoffs, or demotions.” (Please see the attached excerpt of California Public Employee Retirement System contract with the City of El Cerrito.) According to statements and presentations made by the City Manager, Scott Hanin, as recently as March 2, which was the mid-year financial update to the City Council, the City is not planning any layoffs. (There was no mention of transfers or demotions.) Additionally, in an email exchange with the City Manager last week, Mr. Hanin reiterated “no layoffs” were planned by the City.

MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION. Below is the URL for Monday’s City Council background agenda item reports. Please see pages 25 to 27 for the staff report and pages 28 & 29 for the proposed City Council resolution.

URL: http://www.el-cerrito.org/archive/2009/attachments/1_report_090420_286.pdf

It is also worth noting that El Cerrito’s Financial Advisory Board, comprised of volunteer El Cerrito residents and who are appointed by the City Council, discussed this proposed retirement incentive at its meeting last Tuesday evening. I am told by the committee chairman, Rich Bartke, the FAB voted unanimously to oppose this proposal. The Financial Advisory Board members are: Rich Bartke (chairman), Brad Caftel, Vanessa Hill, and Shawn Jackson.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? If you object to the City handing out two year’s service credit to incentivize retirement, please come to Monday evening’s City Council meeting and let the Council know you object. If you are not available to attend and would like me to read your statement or objection into the record, please email me your comments by Monday noon (April 20) and I will read or submit them into the Council meeting record.

SUMMARY. I value the contribution of our city employees, especially our public safety officers. If the City is in dire financial condition and the City has implemented austerity measures, including good old fashion belt tightening steps with its employees and still needs an additional incentives to reduce headcount in order to keep the City solvent, I have no fundamental problem with the City offering retirement incentives. But, only as a last resort; not as a first step and not a blanket two year offer to all employees, particularly ones that have not worked in the city for a long period of time.

Best regards,

Denise Sangster
El Cerrito

Run dates: 2009-04-18 - 2009-04-20
 


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