PLEASANTON -- Pleasanton's city leaders have been some of the most proactive in the East Bay at tackling pension reform, but details of a new police contract reveal the city failed to fully disclose items to the public when it was approved.
In February, the city council unanimously approved a three-year contract that will have police officers paying their full 9 percent of their base salary toward their CalPERS pension by the end of the deal. It also established a two-tiered system for new hires that raised the retirement age.
There were no salary increases included in the deal.
What was not fully disclosed during the approval, but was revealed in a copy of the agreement first made available to the press last week, was an additional two weeks of paid time off for officers and a 57 percent uniform allowance increase that can be counted as income when an officer's retirement pay is calculated.
"It's unfair to the public to have (details) come out after the fact," said Bart Hughes, a Pleasanton resident who has been vocal about pension reform, who said he was unaware of the details revealed in the contract. "It is poor governance and undermines the public's confidence that our elected officials and managers are doing what is best for us."
The additional paid time off was budgeted and the city will not have to use overtime to cover the time off, said Nelson Fialho, Pleasanton's city manager.
However, it does mean that the 73
The uniform allowance increase will cost the city an additional $35,000 per year. The allowance was $950 at the start of the previous contract in 2008 and will rise to $1,500 per year per officer by the end of the new deal.
"We focused primarily on the significant reform (pension) issues because those were the big dollars," said Nelson Fialho, Pleasanton's city manager. "Those things (uniform and additional time off) were inconsequential and what we see as routine items."
Fialho also said both items were noticed and referred to a one-sentence statement on the last page of a Jan. 31 staff report on the contract deal that read: "Other topics of discussion include scheduled time off, clarification of shift and scheduling matters, , frequency of performance evaluations, etc."
"There is no way the average citizen would be able to deduce that it was an increase in vacation," Hughes said. "At the end, it will cost the city, and we had to find out after the fact."
David Batoy, Pleasanton Police Officers Association president could not be immediately reached for comment.
Pleasanton has made a series of moves to address its pension obligation by trying to reduce its unfunded liability, which stands at $176 million, by at least 10 percent. It is also working to lower its personnel costs, which stand at 77 percent of its $87 million general fund, down to 70 percent; and has made more than just interest payments on its unfunded liability.
The city has negotiated new contracts with all its employees that include them paying some if not all of the employee share of their pension. Pleasanton approved a new contract for its fire department that has members paying 9 percent of their base salary toward their pension at a savings of $1 million to the city. The pension costs saved over the life of the new police contract will save the city $2.4 million.
"If there are surprises in the fire contract, they better get it out soon," said Hughes.
Reporter Katie Nelson also contributed to this story. Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.