The city of Imperial Beach entered into a two-year agreement with its employees represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 221 at its Aug. 3 City Council meeting.
City Manager Gary Brown said the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) saves the city $70,000 during its term and, if conditions are kept in the future, could save $1 million in the next five years.
Mayor Jim Janney said compared to benefits and compensations received by employees at other state municipalities, Imperial Beach stepped up to the plate in hard financial times.
"The fact that the folks who work here realize that we are strapped for money," Janney said. "I think they have stepped up and probably done far more than what every other city seems to be beating their chest with what they've done."
Janney said it was not just the signed agreements that make the city employees stand out from the rest, but the little things employees always do in putting the health of the city first.
"Our folks have been doing it for a while and they will continually do it. I think they really care about Imperial Beach, and they want us to keep going," he said.
No updates or information was provided in current negotiations between the city of Imperial Beach and the Imperial Beach Firefighters Association, .
Addressed in the MOU are stipends, retirement and health benefits, vacation, sick leave and holidays for 48 city employees. There are no cost of living or salary adjustments during the term of the MOU.
Tom Clark, the city's Public Safety Department director and fire chief, said current full-time nonsafety employees immediately begin to pay the full eight percent of annual pay into their retirement plan. With the current MOU, it is an additional six percent of their salary.
Based on the employee's salary (a 26 payroll period) the city will pay a stipend worth three percent of their salary.
Employee's pay will be reduced by two percent each pay period with this MOU, and stipends will help offset the burden of taking on greater cost in retirement and health costs.
"It is important to understand that this is a benefit that is not PERSable”—whether or not the wages count toward salary for purposes of calculating retirement, Clark said. "It is a one-time pot of money to help offset the immediate decrease in employee paychecks."
Additional terms in the MOU include the establishment of an Insurance Committee to review health issues and insurance options, clarification of "Hours of Work" and "Holiday and Vacation Benefits," and an agreement that calls for "no strikes, sympathy strikes, slowdowns, sickouts or concerted stoppage of work" during the term of the MOU.
Retroactive to July 1, 2011, full-time miscellaneous employees receive a three percent stipend and a second 2.5 percent stipend on July 1, 2012.
Full-time lifeguards will receive a 5.5 percent stipend and a 9.5 percent stipend in 2012.
All employees hired after July 1, 2011, and part-time employees receive no stipends in this agreement.
Miscellaneous employees hired prior to the MOU pay the entire employee portion of California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) contribution. Lifeguards will gradually shift into full payment of retirement contributions, paying 4.5 percent in 2011 and the entire portion effective July 1, 2012.
CalPERS formula for miscellaneous employees is two percent at age 60 and two percent at age 50 for lifeguard employees using the average of the employee's highest three-year salary. All employees hired after July 1, 2011, will pay the entire employee portion of CalPERS contribution.
For hires prior to July 1, the city will pay $30 towards an employee's health insurance coverage and other benefits with an additional $30 increase in 2012.
Current employees that elect noncoverage under the city's health plan can cash out a maximum of $795 per month, taxable income, and effective January 2012 a maximum of $400.
Employees hired after July 1 may cash out a maximum of $150 per month. All employees electing noncoverage under the city's health plan must provide proof of current medical and dental insurance.
An accrual of sick leave for employees cap wil be reduced from 1000 to 800 hours.
Employees hired before the MOU will receive payment for accrued sick leave more than 800 hours, with no more cash payments for sick leave accrual more than 800 hours. New employees are unable to receive cash payment or compensation for accrued sick leave.
Issuance of uniforms and a $250 yearly stipend for cleaning and maintenance in the agreement give fire inspectors three pairs of pants, shirts and one jacket.
In a two-year MOU between the city's department heads, mid-management, confidential employees and the lifeguard captain agreed to similar terms.
With the exception of the lifeguard captain who pays 4.5 percent of the employee portion of CalPERS contribution, all other department heads, mid-management and confidential employees will pay the full employee portion effective July 1, 2011.
CalPERS formulas are set for new department heads, mid-management and confidential employees hired after the effective date and will pay entire employee retirement contributions and unable to convert sick leave to service credit.
A 5.5 percent stipend is slated for the lifeguard captain with all others receiving a three percent stipend effective July 1, 2011. The city increases its cost towards health insurance by $30 in 2011.
This does not include the head of the Imperial Beach Fire Department and the Public Safety Department director, as the city continues to negotiate terms with the Imperial Beach Firefighters Association.