In 2009, at the direction of the District Board president, an Ad hoc Committee was formed to explore final compensation practices that inflate pensions. The meetings of the committee generally involved examination of pension law, District application of the law and alternatives which could be pursued concerning current pension practices. Significant changes to District compensation practices were identified and approved by the full Board in October, 2009. Today these practices - designed to decrease pension payouts and to inform and protect taxpayers moving forward - have been fully implemented.
The new practices do not solve every problem with the public pension system. The reforms are, however, designed to eliminate the most egregious local practices and to prevent future abuses by establishing sound public policy that will hold all Board members accountable for their actions in decisions on employee compensation. The reforms were thoroughly reviewed by specialized outside pension counsel both for their ability to achieve the desired effect and their ability to be legally implemented and defended.
The reforms implemented to date are summarized below. While these changes are important and meaningful they do not go far enough to adequately protect taxpayers from escalating costs. Continued pension reform will take a committed and collaborative effort of the District, the county retirement board, the state legislature and our labor organizations.
Implementation of Ad hoc Committee Recommendations on Pension Benefits
- Adoption of Board policy (Resolution 2009-09) requiring retirement law counsel review of all benefit changes prior to adoption by the Board of Directors to publicly disclose any pension related consequences. This review is not privileged and is placed into the public record.
- Adoption of Board policy (Resolution 2009-10) requiring the timely presentation of detailed retirement calculation worksheets of all District retirees at time of separation. These worksheets are not privileged and are placed into the public record.
- Adoption of Board policy that requires quarterly review of legislative activity related to retirement law presented to the Board by the District Legislative Analyst.
- Dispatch of a letter from the President of the SRVFPD Board of Directors to the Retirement Chief Executive Officer of the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association (CCCERA) recommending an actuarial study analyzing a potential change to the current method of cost sharing (pooling) used by CCCERA to determine contribution rates of member agencies. This action in part resulted in the depooling of CCCERA assets making individual agencies more accountable for their pension practices and saving the District approximately $1,200,000 per year in pension costs.
- Eliminate vehicle allowance for the Fire Chief and impose an immediate moratorium on new vehicle allowances.
- Eliminate Standby Pay for the Fire Chief and implement significantly increased standards for Safety Managers to receive Standby Pay.
- Eliminate the ability to "straddle" the sale of Administrative Leave.
- Grant Administrative Leave on an incremental monthly basis.
- Eliminate the ability to "straddle" the sale of Vacation Leave.
- Eliminate Management Incentive Pay. Employees hired or promoted into a management capacity today no longer receive this benefit.