Letter: Cost claim in city contract disputed | October 10, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - October 10, 2012

Letter: Cost claim in city contract disputed

In last week's Almanac, Measure L co-chairs Henry Riggs and Roy Theile-Sardina repeat their oft-cited claim that the Menlo Park City Council's 2007 decision to increase employee pension rates was a "mistake," implying that employee compensation immediately increased by 35 percent.

This is not true. The actual cost of the agreement was approximately 5.3 percent over the contract's three-year period, in line with expected cost-of-living increases. The increased cost of the pension enhancement was offset by a corresponding smaller salary increase. Council, including Measure L supporters Andy Cohen and John Boyle, unanimously approved the agreement. These and other details are outlined in a Feb. 13, 2007 staff report.

Like other public and private employers, the Council negotiated this agreement cognizant of the local compensation landscape. Most other agencies in the area, including Palo Alto, Los Altos, Redwood City, Woodside, Menlo Park Fire, and West Bay Sanitary District had already retroactively enhanced their pension formulas. Concern about the city's ability to hire and retain high quality employees played a role in the decision to bring Menlo Park in line with these agencies.

In 2010, in the midst of the economic downturn, Kelly Fergusson and the rest of Menlo Park council imposed a two-tier pension on the city's non-safety employees. Ironically, the sanitary district has taken no such action, and even continues to pay its employee's 8 percent obligation to CALPERs. As a ratepayer, I'm wondering why sanitary district board members Roy Theile-Sardina and Ned Moritz so readily criticize Menlo Park's decisions while leaving their own agency's labor costs untouched.

Heyward Robinson, Menlo Park City Council, 2006-2010


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