Councilwoman Mickie Winkler e-mailed this message to Menlo Park residents on Nov. 27.
Fellow Residents, The following items have accumulated during our long and hopefully happy weekend.
CITY AND SEIU REACHED AN IMPASSE IN NEGOTIATIONS.
After several months of negotiations, the City of Menlo Park has reached impasse with the Service Employees International Union Local715(SEIU), whose contract with the City expired at the end of October.
The parties have reached impasse on: wage increases, on how to manage the rising cost of health insurance premiums, and on the union's demands for enhanced retirement benefits.
The City's budget is very sensitive to any changes in employee compensation and benefit packages because the city is a service organization and over 80% of total expenditures are on employee costs.(This figure will increase when post-retirement health-care benefits are factored in.)
Currently, retirement benefits (not including post-retirement health-care benefits) for non-safety workers are calculated on a 2% at 55 formula, which means that after 30 years of service an employee making $75K can retire at age 55 and receive $45,000/yr for life with an additional cost of living adjustment currently capped at 2%. If the formula goes to 2.5% at 55 that same employee receives $56,250/yr for life.
And if the formula increased to 2.7%, that same employee receives $60,750/yr for life.
The city's contribution varies with the formula -- and the health of the pension fund.
The "years of service" begin when an employee enrolls in the system, and carries over from member municipalities, although each city pays its pro-rated share. The benefit is calculated on the highest 12-month salary, so salary increases directly affect retirement costs.
The City and the Union must now agree on a mediator and a schedule. Negotiations will be guided by the new City Council.
1. Safeway will remain open for business during its 3-phase remodeling process. Weather permitting, the current "parking lot" phase will be completed on Jan. 2. (Note, the underground garage has been restriped for increased and better parking while the parking lot is being improved.) Left-hand turn lane from north-bound El Camino Real into Safeway is being prepared.
2. The interior of the grocery store/pharmacy will be reconfigured and expanded.
3. The new retail stores on the north side of the parking lot will be built.
In the last email update re: Menlo Park's new Utility User Tax, some of you correctly pointed out that I neglected to include "cable" in the list of utilities that will be taxed. (Cable, phone, cell phone and DSL will be taxed at the 2.5% rate. Gas, electric and water will be taxed at 3.5%) Sorry.
As always, your comments or (or corrections) are welcome.
Mickie Winkler, Menlo Park City Council until Dec. 5.