In the weekly feature called "e-views," we invite readers to answer a question via email.
Last week's question:
Antioch is considering enhancing its employee retirement formula to entice veteran police officers to the city. Specifically, they might amend its contract with the Public Employees' Retirement System to incorporate a 3 percent at age 50 formula for public safety hires. Would you support such a change? Why or why not?
THE CITY IS already in trouble with finances. Why don't they entice police officers from another state?
This is financially breaking cities across the U.S. and California and in Europe. There are a lot of people looking for jobs -- advertise more in other sectors of the state. Why pull this city under more. Get real.
YES, I WOULD support an attempt with the hope to hire experienced officers possibly with lateral transfers.
Antioch Police Department will lose a significant number of experienced officers next year to retirements and that will be a "brain drain," as experienced officers are critical and valuable to any department. It is very important not to be staffed with all rookies, as a career in law enforcement has many other unique aspects included in it that other careers do not have. A mix of experienced officers in the ranks is vital to any department's operations.
NO! FOR ANTIOCH to change its Sept. 1 contract amendment with CalPERS, which was under discussion for many months, and return to the 3 percent at 50 (safety members) and the 2.7 percent at 55 (miscellaneous members) retirement benefit formula will mean more general fund money going to PERS and set a bad precedent.
New state law, effective Jan. 1, 1213, provides that existing members of PERS hired by a public agency shall be placed in the hiring agency's original tier. As Antioch stands now, the original tier for public safety is 3 per at 55.
The following agencies have a 3 percent at 55 retirement formula: Benicia, Brentwood, Fairfield, Hercules, Martinez, Pittsburg, San Ramon and Walnut Creek.
I doubt that money is the sole reason the city is having problems hiring cops. However, should council concur with this unproven assumption, they should offer to pay into a 457 Deferred Compensation Plan, since that would not have any long-term obligations to the city once the employee retires.
THIS IS A poor, dumb idea. Anybody that has taken notice of the widespread unfunded catastrophes that have already occurred as a result of this fuzzy thinking in the hands of incompetent administrators and politicians, should reject it. I'm speaking of local (fire districts, etc.), state (prison guards, etc.) and national government (employees retirement fund deficits), and it is obvious. If it is necessary pay more, but let new hires be responsible for their own for retirement planning with limited assistance and no guarantees.
I WOULD NOT support increasing the recent already agreed upon retirement formula.
This proposal is far too expensive, will unjustly add to the already $59 million debt for underfunded retirement benefits, and goes against the state law that is being tried to be pre-empted in advance.
To reportedly entice veteran police officers from other jurisdictions, does not require this. There are other things like already present wages, benefits, guaranteed increases, and many other desirable enhancements that would bring them to work here. How many excuses, twists and turns, and deceptive claims are the public to be subjected to before the leaders realize that they too are being misled? Antioch has to stop allowing our city's finances being controlled and directed by a couple of the employee groups, who already get about 75 percent of the city budget. That kind of weak leadership is what has put our city and other agencies throughout the country into the financial quicksand that it currently is in.
I predict that the city council will ignore these facts and just go ahead and do it anyway, then follow that up with a tax proposal in 2013, and once again claim they don't have enough money. Weak politicians always go to the public for more to cover for their own weaknesses and incompetence. It hasn't changed here in Antioch!
Ralph A. Hernandez
This week's question:
How do you think Antioch should fill the city council seat left vacant when Wade Harper was elected mayor? The options before the Antioch City Council are to hold a special election, appoint the third-highest vote-getter, appoint someone based on submitted applications or go through a public interview process for interested candidates.
Email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please limit responses to a few sentences, and be sure to include your full name and city of residence. Not all responses will be published. Note: Please respond before Monday.