Burbank and firefighter chiefs' unit deal brokers pension outlay

The city reached an agreement this week with the Burbank Firefighters Chief Officers’ Unit, in which the union’s six employees will receive a 6% salary increase in exchange for paying their full 9% employee pension contribution.

At the same time, the city’s unfunded pension liability has jumped to $309 million from $251 million a year ago, according to the latest figures released by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

However, city officials said Burbank’s $13.4-million investment last fiscal year to pay down the cost slowed the liability growth. That investment is expected to save the city $720,000 a year, city officials said.

The agreement reached with the Firefighters Chief Officers’ Unit, which was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Burbank City Council, extends to June 2015 and is effective immediately. The union is comprised of six battalion chiefs, who make up the fire department’s management team.

The new contract also includes a decrease in the bottom salary ranges by 10% starting this year, and an increase in the sick leave cash-out for employees from 50% to 60% effective in June 2015, according to a city report.

The pension contribution changes translate to a $9,033 total net savings for the city through the end of the contract, according to a city report.

Under state law, employees who were hired after Jan. 1 and are new to the state’s pension system must already pay the full employee pension contribution.

The city has been negotiating with the its various employee unions to reduce the amount of money it contributes to each employee’s pension and have workers pay their full pension contribution.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has been paying the full contribution since 2008, while the police officers and firefighters unions are on track to doing so by fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively.

All other groups pay a portion of the member contribution, according to a city report.

Despite the city’s growing pension costs, city officials said Burbank continues to be in “sound financial condition.”


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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