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By Tim Hunt

A public pension milestone

Uploaded: Jun 27, 2013

When I read recently that the city of Dublin had negotiated a new pension deal with its employees I frankly thought the report was in error.
When I checked it out, the report was accurate and the city has achieved something of a milestone.
With the stock market rollercoaster over the last number of years, cities have become acutely aware that paying the full costs of pension contributions was getting way too expensive very quickly, particularly when the state's largest funds are substantially unfunded on an actuarial basis. Throw in health care for retirees that has been part of many government pension agreements and the costs were escalating and the actuarial tables looked simply awful, even with very optimistic estimates of investment returns.
Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore have all negotiated new agreements with most of their employees to so the employees are picking up their traditional share of the pension cost—8 percent for most employees, 9 percent for public safety. Pleasanton will reach that goal this December, while in Livermore all employees except the police (5 percent) are paying their share. For Livermore and Pleasanton that meant reaching agreements with the employee unions. Dublin does not have an employee union for its city employees.
What is unusual about Dublin is the employees will pick up half of the city's share starting July 1 so employees will be contributing 12 percent of their wages to their pension. That smacks of the private sector. Dublin Councilman Don Biddle explained that the city has taken good care of its 90 employees and that a new deal on wages is still being negotiated.
Dublin uses contracted private services for police and fire (both the county departments) as well as public works.
That approach has kept the number of city employees to fewer than 100 serving a city of 46,000 residents. Dublin took this approach when it incorporated back in 1981 and each City Council has maintained that approach, a wise approach that has controlled costs while providing quality services to residents and businesses.


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