Higher costs for unions

Some Newport Beach city employees will contribute more to their pension costs, the city announced Tuesday, as City Hall and non-public safety unions agreed on a new contract.

Amid looming unfunded pension obligations, the city sought concessions from its engineers, parks and recreation staff members and others. On Tuesday, City Council approved the contracts, which means staff will pay 4.6% more for their retirement costs and will forgo pay raises in 2011.

"The private sector saw great impacts in the recession, and so now has the public sector," City Manager Dave Kiff said in a statement. "We still have more to do at the city, but I appreciate the represented employees' stepping up here."

Kiff has a separate contract.

Three unions agreed to the increased retirement contributions, bringing their members' total responsibility to 8% of their state Public Employees' Retirement System plan. This will amount to $1.4 million in savings, according to the city.

"We realize in this day and age we have to pay our share of our pensions," said Teri Craig, president of the City Employees' Assn.

As a result of the changes and higher health-care costs, an employee making about $60,000 with family health coverage will see a drop in take home pay of about 8.8% between 2010 and 2012, the city said.

In July, the city reached an agreement with the police unions to have some employees contribute a total of 3.5% toward their retirement, saving an estimated $225,000 over two years. It has also negotiated concessions from lifeguards and fire employees.

Craig said the public safety employees should agree to larger contributions, as did her members.

"We are looking forward to safety picking up their share as well," she said.

Besides pensions, the city won concessions on pay raises. The unions agreed to limit their raises in January 2012 to a maximum of 3%, based on the rate of inflation.

The agreements cover the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.

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