Council OKs changes in police health benefits

City News Service

The City Council on Monday approved changes to retiree health benefits for members of the San Diego Police Officers Association, the last union to sign on to a sweeping reform measure expected to save the city more than $700 million over 25 years.

When the city's other worker bargaining units agreed to the 15-year deal last month, the POA remained a holdout because its leaders were considering whether to appeal a legal ruling on the subject. They eventually decided to drop their lawsuit and sign the deal.

Getting rid of old lawsuits was "one less thing we have to worry about'' so city leaders can look forward in solving budget issues, Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

The city will save money because employees will start contributing to their benefits package, which was offered to workers hired before July 1, 2005.

Before the agreements were put in place, projections showed exponential growth in the city's required future payments as enrolled employees retired, cutting into dollars available for public safety and other services. The new agreements slow the pace of that growth, resulting in a total savings in 25 years of over $700 million, according to Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The deal was approved by 97 percent of POA members, according to the union.

The City Council passed it 6-2, with Carl DeMaio and Lori Zapf dissenting. DeMaio said recent court victories should have been used as leverage to negotiate deals even more financially favorable to the city.

   
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