Jonathan Morales, 7/30/10
Looking to bring more parity to how town employees are compensated, Moraga’s town council has approved a number of benefit and pay changes.
Most of the changes, which officials say will ultimately not cost Moraga more money, stem from the town agreeing to fund a larger portion of police officers’ retirement.
Employees in the state’s CalPERS retirement system pay the equivalent of 9 percent of their salary into their retirement fund.
For non-sworn employees, Moraga has been paying 5 of that 9 percent on top of its own town contribution. But the town has not been paying any of the “employee share” for sworn police officers.
Under the new agreement with the Moraga Police Officers Association, the town will pay 3 percent of the employee share.
At the same time, the town will reduce the contribution for all other employees from 5 to 3 percent. Those employees will receive a 2.5 percent raise to offset the benefit loss and additional taxes they will have to pay as a result.
Police officers will also receive a 2 percent raise over the next three years.
Although the town already contributes more to a police officer’s retirement than to a non-sworn employee’s because the police have a costlier plan, the changes mean the town will contribute the same relative amount to each employee, said Town Manager Mike Segrest.
In addition, he said, the changes could help the town better recruit and keep officers in a region where most law enforcement agencies offer heftier retirement packages.
“It’s been a real significant problem “… to retain and attract quality police officers,” he said.
The town offers police officers a retirement plan in which they are eligible to retire at age 50 and receive 2 percent of their final salary for every year of service. Most other agencies offer a 3-percent-at-50 plan.
The Police Officers Association, a nonunion bargaining unit, is pleased with the new contract, said John Noble, a representative of the group.
“Both parties worked very hard to reach agreement, and we believe that, given the economic times that we face, that this is a fair contract for both the city and their police personnel,” he said.
The cost of the benefit changes, Segrest said, is about $40,000, which has been more than offset by about $132,000 in savings from eliminating a part-time community services officer position and leaving a sergeant’s position unfilled for now.
Although the increased retirement contribution may not put Moraga on par with other agencies’ retirement plans, it will still mean a lot for current officers, said police Chief Bob Priebe.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be a major recruitment tool,” he said, “but I do think it’s going to go a long way to keep the people that we have here and to keep them happy, which is the biggest part of it.”