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City employees make first move Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Sep 18 2010 12:00 PM

You have to give credit where it's due. The Chula Vista City Council and their executive staff - in an effort to make the proposed utility users tax more palatable to voters in November - last week agreed to pay their own share of CalPERS retirement benefits.

This week it was announced more municipal employees agreed to take an eight to nine percent reduction in retirement compensation. In all, about $850,000 is the expected savings to the city's budget.

The news comes roughly two years after the city's employee unions announced they would forego raises guaranteed them during contract negotiations in 2005.

The contracts were negotiated during a time when money was being handed out like tabs of ecstasy at an after-hours party.

Recognizing that the city didn't have the funds to comfortably pay them, union employees took a financial hit they didn't have to. You have to give credit where credit is due.

You also have to hold people accountable.

Pension reform before tax increases has long been a battle cry of those whose knee-jerk reaction to the word tax is a shrieking "over my dead body."

Well, now city employees have made a good faith demonstration of pension reform. Recognizing they have to do their part to chip away at a projected $12.5 million budget deficit next year, they've made sacrifices.

The question now is will opponents to Prop. H, the measure that, among other things, levies a tax on wireless communications devices, reconsider their staunch opposition?

If passed, Prop. H is expected to generate slightly more than $5 million in revenue. The money is expected to pay for general fund services such as police and fire protection, library operations and park maintenance.

If it doesn't pass, the city will have to drastically cut the services it provides to the people who live and work here.

Very few people enjoy paying taxes. But the time for getting something for nothing is over. If citizens want their parks clean and their libraries to stay open, they are going to have to pay. At least for the short term.

And if they don't want to pay, then they are going to have to learn to live without. It's that simple.

City employees should be commended for doing their part in saving taxpayers' money.

Now if the mayor and the executives want to seal the deal with voters, perhaps they'll give up their car allowances, which years ago were rolled into their salary package.

After all, no one said leading by example didn't hurt.

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