Archived: EDITORIAL: City of Los Angeles-Charter Amendment G

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Measure G is an attempt to reel in costs associated with the pensions of sworn employees hired in the Fire, Police and Harbor departments.  While it may not go far enough, it is an important step forward in returning Los Angeles to financial sanity and solvency, and we urge voters to support it by voting yes on March 8.

Currently, there are five payment tiers for these departments; Measure G adds a 6th tier for employees in these departments hired after July 1, 2011.

The recent recession has brought to light the fact that as currently constituted, the City of Los Angeles’ pension obligation is unsustainable without even deeper cuts to core services that are already being squeezed dry to deal with the City’s budget crisis.

Most of the personnel in the Fire, Police and Harbor departments are in Tier 5. They can retire at age 50 with a minimum pension rate of 50 percent of the highest year’s salary after 20 years on the job, and 90 percent of the highest year’s salary after 33 years. They contribute 8 or 9 percent (depending on funding levels) toward their pension but nothing toward their retiree health benefits.

Measure G reduces the pension rate to 40 percent after 20 years, sets the employee contribution at 9 percent, and requires employees to contribute 2 percent toward their retiree health benefits. The pension rate would remain at 90 percent for employees who retire after 33 years. Again, it applies only to employees hired after July 1, 2011.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says Measure G will save Los Angeles $152 million over the next 10 years if approved.

While some will argue that the reform amounts to little more than a drop in the bucket toward reducing the City’s financial woes, we say a single drop can cause a ripple that will lead to other financial reforms in the future.

Los Angeles must get its pension costs under control.  We urge a Yes Vote on Measure G.

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