Dan Borenstein of the Contra Costa Times did not tell the entire story today in his Editorial under the byline “Contra Costa Times Editorial” for the Contra Costa Times editorial: District voters should reject false choice offered in fire tax . Borenstein was provided with much information from Chief Louder which he chose to ignore in order to satisfy his own personal opinion.
While I will be sharing his original request to Chief Louder and Contra Costa County in the coming days, I wanted to focus on the document Mr. Borenstein chose to ignore and failed to share with readers of the Contra Costa Times. This kind of is a big deal because it refutes his claims that nothing is being done to reform pensions.
The document is entitled “Steps to Control Retirement Costs” which Chief Louder provided. Apparently Borenstein and the Times skipped over it.
Per his article, Borenstein writes, They’re told the district plans to implement serious pension reform for new hires. In fact, the new pension formulas under discussion are just slightly less generous than the current ones and far more costly than the ones in effect a decade ago.”
Fact is, this is a blanket statement and he failed to provide any such facts or figures to back up this opinion. He also failed to share the federal, state, and IRS laws which Supervisor Gioia and Supervisor Piepho stated at the last meeting and is available via video on the County website to view.
I have obtained the chain of emails from Borenstein to the County which includes a copy of the word document which was provided to Borenstein and the Times earlier this week. This document proves reforms have been taking place. Much discussion has occurred while progress has been made. To act like nothing has been done is flat out silly and irresponsible on Borensteins part.
To be blunt, its flat out reckless for any paper to do what they did today which is fib to its readers. Of course, this is the same paper and editorial staff who plagiarized the LA Times so they are capable of anything.
Here is a copy of the word document which was provided to Borenstein via email.
Steps to Control Retirement Costs
- The terminal leave benefit was eliminated for employees with retirement membership dates on or after January 1, 2011. The elimination of terminal leave decreases final average salary for purposes of calculating an employee’s retirement allowance. This results in lower employer retirement contribution rates. The Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association (CCCERA) Actuarial Valuation and Review as of December 31, 2010 (rates for FY 2012-13), reflects a reduction of 2.99% (299 basis points) to employer contribution rates for Safety Tier A members (Cost Group #8) and 1.64% (164 basis points) to employer contribution rates for General Tier 1 members (Cost Group #5). The CCCERA Actuarial Valuation and Review as of December 31, 2011 (rates for FY 2013-14), reflects a reduction of 1.57% (157 basis points) to employer contribution rates for Safety Tier A members (Cost Group #8) and 1.7% (170 basis points) to employer contribution rates for General Tier 1 members (Cost Group #5). Due to staffing reductions, we currently have no members in Cost Group #5 with retirement membership dates on or after January 1, 2011.
- The County has concluded negotiations for a new general member retirement tier. The terms are 2% @ age 60, 90% salary cap, 2% maximum COLA, and 3 year FAS. Before this new tier can be implemented, State legislative approval is required. SB 1494 (DeSaulnier) is pending; if approved, it will apply to employees hired on or after January 1, 2013. We do not currently have projected employer contribution rates for this new general tier.
- For current employees in General Tier 1 (Cost Group #5), the 50% employer subvention was eliminated. For employees with retirement membership dates before January 1, 2011, this reduces our employer contribution rate by 2.95% (295 basis points) for FY 2012-13 and 3.14% (314 basis points) for FY 2013-14.
- In June 2011, IAFF Local 1230 (L1230) volunteered to forego two previously agreed upon 2.5% wage increases scheduled for July 1, 2011, and January 1, 2012. L1230 also agreed to prospective wage reductions of 2.5% on January 1, 2012, and 2.5% on July 1, 2012. Additionally, two new salary steps were added to the bottom of the salary range of every classification represented by L1230. The two new steps (now steps 1 and 2) are 10% and 5% (respectively) lower than the previous lowest salary step (now step 3).The aforementioned wage reductions have the effect of reducing our budget projections for retirement compensable payroll (i.e., the base to which employer contribution rates are applied).
- Lastly, the side letter agreement included a retirement reopener for July 1, 2012. Pursuant to the terms of the side letter, the County, on behalf of the Fire Board of Directors, is currently meeting and conferring with L1230 on the subject of a new retirement tier. However, it should be noted that even if the Fire Board of Directors and L1230 come to an agreement prior to November 6, 2012, the new retirement tier would require State legislative approval, and therefore (given the legislative schedule), would only be implemented for employees with retirement membership dates on or after January 1, 2014.
Photo was a screen shot taken from the Contra Costa Times website