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Murrieta Council to Consider Police Retirement Changes

In a move initiated by police, the city will defer a scheduled salary increase for pension plan changes that would start on Dec. 30

The Murrieta City Council will consider changing labor contracts with city police and some city employees on Dec. 18, a move that city leaders said will save Murrieta’s strapped general fund more than $600,000 over the next year and a half.

Savings for City's Strapped General Fund

The city, Murrieta Police Officers Association, and Murrieta Police Management Association agreed earlier this year that a scheduled 6 percent pay raise for police officers would be used instead to pay some police retirement costs.

Murrieta police initiated the move. A city budget report in May showed a projected deficit in the city operating fund for the fiscal year that began on July 1. Further, out of the $36.4-million general fund operating budget, police made up 67 percent of $34.4 million in anticipated expenditures, according to that budget report.

To make ends meet, the city reduced its workforce by 19 employees in May, including eight layoffs of full-time employees. Staff reductions combined totaled a little more than $1 million of the $2 million needed to balance the city of Murrieta's operating budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, city leaders said then.

Police Capt. Dennis Vrooman, president of the Murrieta Police Management Association, said in July that the talks began as an effort to help the city balance its budget. "We needed to go to the table and find a solution and be proactive about it," he said then.

Assistant City Manager Jim Holston said in an email to Patch earlier this year, “We’re very appreciative of their willingness to help out in these tough economic times.” Most savings is expected to be realized from the contribution to the retirement fund, according to Holston.

To make that change happen, the City Council has to complete some changes with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). The city will consider on Dec. 18 adopting a CalPERS Form Resolution of Intention for pension modifications for police safety employees effective Dec. 30 this year.

The council also will consider reclassifying two vacant police jobs so a computer forensic investigator and lead dispatcher can be hired amid a job-hiring freeze.

Proposed Retirement Changes for New Police Officers, Others

In more cost-cutting moves, the council also is scheduled on Dec. 18 to consider adopting a second-tier retirement formula for police and miscellaneous city employees hired on or after Dec. 30. The new formula basically would push back the retirement benefit age five years, according to city officials. City officials don't know yet exactly how much the city will save from this move, although savings are expected.

City staff members recently negotiated two-year agreements with the Murrieta General Employees Association and the Murrieta Supervisors Association, according to a report by Human Resources Director Jeffrey Price. City staff members also worked out an agreement for unrepresented employees.

According to the Human Resources Director’s report: “Employee pension contributions from members of the MPOA [Murrieta Police Officers Association] will generate a savings of $204,438 in the General Fund during the remainder of fiscal year 2012-13 and an ongoing  annual savings of $408,877 thereafter.
Employee pension contributions from members of the MPMA [Murrieta Police Management Association] will generate a savings of $23,898 in the General Fund during the remainder of fiscal year 2012-13 and an ongoing annual savings of $47,795 thereafter."

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 in the Council Chambers at Murrieta City Hall, One Town Square.

Nuke Negro November 27, 2012 at 04:43 PM
These public servants are only consuming 67% of the Murrieta budget but deserve more. They should get 4% credit per year toward retirement and the retirement age should be dropped to 45. They also should have their minimum salary raised to $150,000 per year. They risk their lives and deserve more..
Rob November 27, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I agree, cops should be paid more than staff docs at Riverside County, esp. those risk takers like the Chief, captain, and lieutenants. That $200K/year average is a pittance for sitting behind desks anywhere near the man streets of Murrieta. That they pay one penny of their benefits and pensions is the real crime in this city. Thank God they can put in 20 years, switch jobs and begin a 2nd pension plan. It is tough to retire at 55-60 with 100K/year in pensions, full benefits, plus SS and Medicare. In fact, I am starting a charity drive for former Chief Wright. The poor guy retired with a $225K final year salary, had to sue for additional severance pay and must now suffer in Hermosa Beach with a pittance 6-figure pension paid for by the ingrates of Murrieta. These people protect you man. They SHOULD make more than the docs..... {whisper} Oh, they DO make more.... never mind.
censored messenger November 27, 2012 at 04:59 PM
These "public servants" are incredibly overpaid. We should lower their wage to $50,000 with a pension appropriate with that wage. There are hundreds of unemployed qualified officers who would jump at that job. Demand a VOLUNTARY reduction of both wage and pension or dismiss all of them and rehire.. The debt of unfunded pension's for police, fire and teacher's unions will bankrupt the state. Their unions are responsible so punish the workers and they will change the union.
Nuke Negro November 27, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Rob I agree but need to make a correction and an addition. The retirement age should be 40 not 45. Also to pay for these people who sacrifice so much we need to raise taxes to whatever level it takes to pay for their salaries and retirement. If it takes a 20% sales tax and a 30% state income tax so be it.
Wayne November 27, 2012 at 06:12 PM
First of all, public employee pensions only account for about three percent of the states budget. They are not bankrupting the state. CM needs to take a class in economics. State budgets are a little more complicated than he thinks. But a police department commanding 67% of murrietas general fund is bankrupting the city. This city is not "safe" because of them. It's safe because of the demographics. I once had six cop cars race down my street one night, only to find out it was a small domestic dispute. And half of these cops were hanging out outside BSing with each other. I wish the city council would look at contracting with the sheriff's. I bet they could do the same job for 1/2 the price. Plus, they don't drive around in brand new dodge chargers every year.
Nuke Negro November 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
They deserve the new cars. They should have the best to protect and serve. Pensions are only 3% of the state budget? Wow! Then public servants in general should have their salaries and pensions doubled for their service and sacrifice!
Vic November 27, 2012 at 08:05 PM
This thread is HILARIOUS!!!
Wayne November 27, 2012 at 08:19 PM
67% of the general fund? That's a pretty big ego! Especially since they are robbing the city of another 6% raise only to offset their outrageous pension! You've got to be kidding me. Do our city leaders have their heads in the sand? Almost all municipal police departments take up 35-55% of the general. Oh wait, Steve, our fire department has an ego too? I thought they took a pay cut and pay their full retirement. Not take a pay raise to offset it. Maybe now is the time for "the people" to take back government. We're not getting any new business here because the city charges exorbitant fees to pay for our police. Did you know that we lost Bass Pro Shops to Rancho Cucamonga? Even Costco was lost to lake Elsinore! How embarrassing to see flourishing cities like temecula, menifee, lake Elsinore... Etc and here we are... Going bankrupt. Temecula has county sheriffs and they had over a $2 mil surplus this past FY. Wake up murrietans, at 67% the PD is the anchor dragging the city underwater.
SA November 27, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The city needs to continue to cut the fat and conduct a private nonbiased forensic accounting to ascertain the source of the financial drain then cut it. Further, if the private sector has to take a loss, the public sector should do same. With that being said, I understand that during economic downturns; causes more crime and potential harm to citizens in which the need for more protection is paramount. Tooooooo bad the Police can’t just shoot on sight, when a perp is being combative.
Nuke Negro November 27, 2012 at 10:07 PM
We don't want businesses like that in Murrieta that will make us like Traffecula. Our PD is the best. Who wants the cheaper Sheriffs. We should devote 80% of our budget to the PD if that is what it takes to keep us safe.
Nuke Negro November 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM
There should be a camera on every corner to catch all crime. I am all for arming everyone. Even the kids should have weapons.
Wayne November 28, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Nuke, ur an idiot. The MPD doesn't do anything more than write tickets to soccer moms. They are $125k a year traffic cops. People don't realize the MPD consumes 67% of the general fund that pays for thier salary, overtime, and pensions. Now, thanks to the patch, they do. It's been a long time coming, but I think this is the beginning of the end for the murrieta PD. bring on the sheriffs who can do the same job for 1/2 price!
Vic November 28, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Nuke forgot to enable the sarcasm font....
Wayne November 28, 2012 at 06:20 AM
I see. Lol. Sorry.

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