Forum didn't address pension reform

During the Feb. 2 Glendale City Council candidates forum at Oakmont Country Club, none of the candidates addressed the major problems with Glendale's pension system. At one time pensions were sustainable (2% at age 50 in 1973) for safety officers. This was before past city councils made too many concessions to the unions. For example, they agreed to change the retirement formula from 2.5% to 3% at age 50 for each year of service. It should have applied only to future years of service, not past service already earned. It didn't.

As a result, a safety officer with 20 years of service on June 30, 2001, instead of being credited for 50%, (20 years at 2.5%), received 60% at 3% per year. This 10% increase represented a 20% increase in their pensions for service prior to June 30, 2001. Although the current council changed the formula to 3% at age 55, on Jan. 1, 2011, it only applied to new hires.

Other areas of concern are pension spiking and cost-of-living adjustments. The state realized this was a problem in the 1970s and rescinded it immediately for all current state employees. Glendale did not. As a result, a safety officer with 1,000 hours of accrued vacation, cashed out at retirement, will spike his/her starting pension by 50%. It was never intended for a public-sector employee to earn substantially more in retirement than they did while working.

Kenneth Landon

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