Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - February 11, 2011


City financial issue getting worse

Dear Editor,

I am concerned about the serious situation our city is facing with our growing unfunded pension liability and increasing employee medical costs. This was heightened when the Pleasanton Finance Director said she is starting to lose sleep over the city's unfunded liability. The city needs to get much more aggressive in asking employees to begin sharing in their portion of pension and medical costs.

The pending contract was negotiated in good faith (although, unfortunately, without input from residents). However, material information from CalPERS came out after the preliminary negotiations, which changed a key rate assumption. This new data resulted in a significantly increased financial burden on Pleasanton (see, exhibit F). Assuming it is legal, we need to go back to the bargaining table to true up the draft contract based on this change.

We also need comparative data from other cities we historically benchmark against, to include employee contributions, to CalPERS, and the fiscal health of the cities. Otherwise how can the council ensure we have the strongest negotiating leverage and ensure a competitive outcome for both Pleasanton residents and employees?

Bottom line -- we have a serious long-term issue that is getting worse. We need to be even more aggressive and creative in partnering with our employee bargaining units so we don't end up like other cities facing massive layoffs and reductions in services. I would like to see a five- to 10-year plan developed, and discussed with the public, prior to starting new bargaining negotiations. This plan needs to assume a worst-case scenario, as we can't risk doing otherwise.

Nancy Allen


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