The Star-News


City makes offer cops may, may not refuse

Sat, Jan 15 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite

Late Wednesday night, Chula Vista city officials and board members of the Chula Vista Police Officer's Association came to a tentative agreement for pension reform.

According to Assistant City Manager Scott Tulloch, the union board has until Jan. 22 to vote for or against the proposal made between the two parties.

If approved by the board, city staff will give the results to the City Council Jan. 25 during closed session.

Police union spokesman Phil Collum said the city and and board members shared ideas about meeting in the middle for a resolution toward pension reform.

"As a result, we have an unapproved agreement with the city that addresses primary concerns of both parties," he said.

"Through this agreement we hope to save almost all of the police positions," Collum said. "This is a very a good thing - a huge step in the right direction."

Chula Vista City Councilman Rudy Ramirez said the city needs pension reform and public safety.

The police union is the last of five unions to agree to pension reform, which according to the city must be competed in order to address a $12.5 million budget deficit for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

"There's been a lot of issues with mistrust, communication and personalities that have been presented that so far," Collum, said about the delay in negotiations.

City employees who have agreed to pension reform total 76.5 percent, according to Human Resources Director Kelley Bacon.

City officials previously asked officers to contribute 9 percent of their salary toward pension costs, create a second-tier system for new hires and give up 6 percent of planned raises.

City budget cuts, which went into effect Monday, will generate $4.3 million annually in taxpayer's savings.

The city needs to receive $3.2 million from the police union.

"If we reach a resolution, we will delay layoffs again to allow time for the POA board to vote," said Assistant City Manager Scott Tulloch on Wednesday.

He said the extension would last until Jan. 24, giving the association's board 10 days to vote and approve a resolution.

Richard Kreisler, an attorney with the city, was hired last fall to help with negotiations for all five bargaining units and was on the agenda to negotiate with the association last week. On this week's agenda, Kreisler's name was removed.

According to police union spokesman Collum, changes were necessary to jump start informal negotiations.

Tulloch said sometimes there is more conversation when attorneys are not present during discussions.

"I don't now if it influenced them or not, but part of the agreement is that we would not have attorneys in the meetings initially," he said.

Last Tuesday, Collum said the POA had no intentions of negotiating with city officials for pension reform.

"Our primary interest is to close the budget gap," Tulloch said. "We're hoping to reach an agreement with the POA to make some compensation concessions so we don't have to resort to as many layoffs."

Jim Sandoval and outside legal counselRichard Kreisle were not part of the recent negotiations.


© 2009 The Star-News