Contract gives police raises, increases pension contributions

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday approved a new contract with police that includes raises over the next three years in exchange for employees paying more toward their retirement.

The Newport Beach Police Assn., which covers about 180 sworn and civilian employees at the department, had already ratified the contract, which took about two months to negotiate.

With the approval process complete, sworn police employees will now receive a 2.5% raise each year for the next three, but the amount they must contribute to their pensions will bump up 0.5% annually.

In practical terms, this means a police officer making a $95,000 salary in 2017 would contribute 13.6% of his paycheck — about $13,000 — to his retirement plan, City Manager Dave Kiff said in an email.

"These will be among the highest pension deductions from pay for any agency in the region," Kiff said. "Yes, there are raises in the mix — but the raises are geared to keep up with inflation."

Civilian police employees will also receive the raises, but they will contribute an extra 4.35% to 6.25% by 2017, depending on which retirement plan they are part of, according to a city staff report.

Since 2011, the City Council has made it a priority in negotiations to limit salary growth while securing higher pension contributions from employees.

Newport Beach has the highest pension debt per capita in all of Orange County — more than $3,000 for each resident — according to a recent grand jury report.

This most recent deal somewhat mirrors the last time the Newport Beach Police Assn. negotiated a contract, in 2012, when its members again agreed to pay more toward pensions in exchange for raises.

At the time, the city estimated that agreement would cost $205,000 more over its two-year term than previous agreements. The most recent contract is expected to cost the city an extra $1.87 million over its three-year term.

A representative from the Newport Beach Police Assn. could not be reached for comment.

 [For the record, 1:06 p.m. July 10: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Newport Beach's pension debt per capita is more than $3 million for each resident. It should have said $3,000 for each resident.]

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