Earlier this month, the Sacramento City Council approved major cuts to public safety, which reportedly was the first time in recent memory that the city imposed cuts on the police department due to a budget that was described as “dreaded” and the worst budget that has come before this city. As July 1st quickly approaches, many officers have already handed in their badges, which has led Mayor Kevin Johnson to bring up the need for major pension reforms. The Bee points out that “In his strongest words to date on the subject, Johnson said Tuesday that city cops must discuss contributing to their pensions in order to save 42 police officers from being laid off.” Of course, the new fiscal year is almost set to start, so the jobs are unlikely to be saved in time, but the mayor has expressed that he is hoping the union and the city can work on an agreement over the summer. Officers are not the only ones who are facing layoffs, as administrative staff, crime scene workers, and community service officers are also on the chopping block. The Bee reports:
“The layoffs create a difficult situation for Johnson. He has been strongly supported by the public safety unions and has said he wants the city to have two police officers per 1,000 residents. After this round of cuts, the city would need to add roughly 275 cops to get to that ratio. So far, the police union has not agreed to open its contract, which runs until 2013. Police officers and firefighters do not pay into their CalPERS retirement funds. It's a contract arrangement that the City Council has agreed to in the past but is now seeking to undo as a cost-saving measure.”
According to budget estimates, if public safety were to contribute 4 percent toward their benefits, then the city could save at least $4 million a year. The head of the police union has countered that if even officers paid 9 percent toward CalPERS, the police officer jobs might be saved but other staff would still face layoffs.