Pension measure likely on June ballot


An initiative to reform the city’s debt-ridden pension system is tentatively scheduled to be placed on the June 5 primary election ballot following a 5-3 vote by the City Council.

The measure qualified for the ballot with 115,000 petition signatures. If passed, it would give 401(k) plans to new employees, other than police officers, instead of having them enrolled in the employee pension system.

It would also place a five-year lid on pay for current employees affecting how their pension benefits will be calculated. Employees will still be eligible for raises and bonuses, but those extra dollars won’t help determine the money they receive in retirement.

The vote Monday signaled the City Council’s intent to schedule the vote to coincide with the June primary — a technicality because the election hasn’t officially been called. That will happen early in the new year.

The timing of when the measure would go before the public was a main point of contention among council members.

The dissenters — council President Tony Young, David Alvarez and Marti Emerald — said scheduling it for the November general election would cost the city less money and attract more voters. Emerald cited voter turnout statistics showing that many more people cast ballots in general elections than primaries.