COSTA MESA — Several of the city's civilian department heads have agreed to pay the maximum amount allowed toward their state pensions, city CEO Tom Hatch announced at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
The news will likely be seen as a victory for the City Council majority, which throughout the last year has been calling on city employees to pay more toward their California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) costs.
Hatch said he is hoping the move by the civilian department heads — which constitutes all city departments, except police and fire — will be mimicked by the rest of the city employees.
Hatch also said he wants to put into effect the leaders' pension contribution pledge in a resolution, which will be introduced during a future council meeting.
CalPERS has passed its investment losses from the recession onto cities statewide, leading to higher pension costs. Costa Mesa is looking to renegotiate with its own employee groups over their pension contributions to help alleviate the increased burden.
The council majority has argued that the city needs to lighten its payroll — through outsourcing many city services and thus offloading the pensions associated with those employees — and get the city's remaining workers to pay more toward their own retirements.
Most city employees and department leaders already pay toward their retirement, but not at the maximum allowable amount, which left Costa Mesa covering it. Hatch said department leaders are setting an example of ending the practice.
The city is expected to release more details Wednesday.
In other action, the council majority voted to put its facility maintenance services out for bidding. As of press time, they were still looking to appoint former public services director Peter Naghavi as the city's newly created economic development director.