Walnut Creek police officers have a new contract that will give them modest pay raises beginning next year and requires them for the first time to pay toward their health care premiums and pensions.
The City Council voted Tuesday to approve on the new-three year agreement for the rank-and-file officers in the police department. This was the last employee group to come before the council for a new contract since the recession began.
The Walnut Creek Police Officers Association was operating under a five-year contract that expired this month. The group has on its own offered givebacks, agreeing to a salary freeze in 2009.
The new contract's officer pay scale ranges from around $70,000 to $86,000 annually.
This new agreement continues a trend by city leaders to have employees pay toward their pensions and their health care.
Highlights of the contract:
Paying the employee portion, 9 percent for police, of the California Public Employees' Retirement System is something the city has been working to get all employee groups to do. The same goes for paying toward health care premiums, said Sally Rice, the city's assistant administrative services director. Rank-and-file police officers had not yet started to contribute because they were in a five-year contract, she said.
The contract also plans for a new second-tier retirement formula of 3 percent of their salary at 55 as opposed to the 3 percent at 50 other officers get.
The focus on pensions came about a few years ago as the city hit rough financial times. Back when the city was flush and CalPERS returns were very high, as a benefit the city picked up the employees' tab as well as the employees portion of the pension cost. Councilman Gary Skrel said in 2010 that equated to the city paying an additional 48 cents for every dollar it pays an officer.
Now times are not so good.
With a $20 million shortfall two years ago, a $2 million deficit closed during the two-year budget adoption in June and more shortfalls expected, cutting back on employee benefits has been a way city leaders have sought what they call "structural change."
Mayor Bob Simmons was the only member of council to speak Tuesday during approval of the contract.
"I want to say thanks and commend the officers in this particular employee group for working cooperatively with the city," he said.
Simmons specifically said he appreciated them working with the city on health and pension reform.
No members of the public or the police group spoke at the meeting.
Calls and e-mails to the lawyer who represents the police association and the association's spokesman were not returned.
The police management group is still in negotiations with the city; its contract expires in September.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.