County approves sheriff's deputies' contract

By a 3 to 2 vote Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a new two-year contract for sheriff's deputies and district attorney's office investigators.

Supervisors Todd Spitzer, Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen voted yes, while Supervisors Shawn Nelson and John Moorlach voted against the agreement with the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

The move follows 23 months of arduous negotiations, which ended with a contract that requires, among other provisions, that employees pick up their entire pension contribution share starting in July of next year — a hardline bargaining point for the county throughout the process.

The increase approximately doubles the percentage of salaries that will go toward retirement — from 7% to about 14%, officials said.

However, to help offset that hit, the contract also includes a 3% raise when the pension contribution bump takes place in July 2015.

According to a staff report, the agreement will save the county about $22.6 million over its term.

While some, including Moorlach, have expressed concern that the contract will prove too expensive as the county continues to deal with a tough financial situation, sheriff's department officials cautioned that without competitive salaries and benefits, the department risks having deputies lured away by nearby law enforcement agencies.

Ultimately, though, department officials called the deal fair, and urged the board to pass it.

The association represents about 2,040 employees in nine peace officer classifications.

The new contract is in effect through June 30, 2016.

—Jill Cowan

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