SF mayor laid out his pension reform plan

May 24, 2011 6:51:13 PM PDT
City workers in San Francisco would pay more for their retirement benefits under a plan the mayor's proposing, but he'll need approval from the voters and one local official is trying to keep that from happening.

Mayor Ed Lee, flanked by dozens of city and union leaders, laid out his pension reform plan.

"We have a proposal that we believe will save the city between $800 [million] to $1 billion in the next 10 years," said Lee.

All city employees would pay more into the fund starting in mid 2012. It's a sliding scale, how much more depends on their salaries, and employees making less than $50,000 a year would not see an increase. The plan would raise the retirement age to 65 for most employees and increase it from 55 to 58 for police and firefighters -- the same groups that would see the biggest hike in their pension premiums.

"It's a hit they're willing to take because they understand that it's absolutely essential that the retirement system remain healthy for them to enjoy their benefits in their retirement," said police union president Gary Delagnes.

Leaders of other unions echoed that positive attitude.

"I think the press conference is a touchy-feely, happy relief after a very long process," said SEIU staff director Patty Tamura.

However, one city official was notably absent from the crowded mayor's office -- Public Defender Jeff Adachi. He has been pushing his own version of pension reform and says he thinks the plan backed by the mayor and the unions just won't cut it.

"The question is, 'Does it go far enough? Does it solve the problem?' From what I've seen of the savings, the answer's no," said Adachi.

Adachi has proposed having all city workers pay about half of their own pensions -- a plan he says would save taxpayers twice as much money. As the Board of Supervisors considers putting the mayor's plan on the November ballot, Adachi is gathering signatures to put his own plan on the ballot right next to it.

"I think the voters want to make sure that this problem is solved," said Adachi.

"I leave Mr. Adachi to his viewpoint, but I am sure that he has to recognize this is the official city family and he does not represent that," said Lee.


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