The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 17, 2008
Pension tension: Carlsbad may scale back future pension costs

CarlsbadSeal.gifHere comes another test of public sentiment toward civil service employee benefits.

The North County Times reports that Carlsbad Mayor Bud Lewis wants to overhaul the city's pension system by cutting retirement benefits for future city employees. He's hoping to put the measure before voters in 2010.

Putting a pension plan change on the ballot will take the backing of a majority of Carlsbad city council members. California lawmakers also would have to pass legislation to change how the state figures the city's payments into CalPERS.

From the story by Times reporter Barbara Henry:

The mayor said his rough proposal calls for decreasing retirement benefits that the city will eventually pay to any city employees hired after 2010 -- employees hired before then wouldn't be affected.

Instead of a "3 percent" plan, the new city employees could end up with a "2.5 percent" or a "2.7 percent plan," he said.

In Carlsbad, general city employees are eligible for a "3 percent at 60" plan, meaning that if they retire at age 60, they receive an annual pension equal to 3 percent of their highest yearly salary, multiplied by the number of years they were employed by the city.

Firefighters and police get the deal at age 50.

Under such a system, a city employee who worked 25 years before retiring and had a peak salary of $75,000 could receive an annual benefit of $56,250.

The council unanimously approved the benefit for police officers in 2001. When the firefighters' turn came in 2002, the council divided 3-2, with Lewis and Hall voting against the proposal.

The two men also voted against expanding it to general employees in 2003.

As we've mentioned on this blog and in last week's column on Orange County's recently passed Measure J, local calls for public employee pension changes are one way to measure the public's mood toward civil service benefits.

We've seen what happened in Orange County. Now keep your eye on Carlsbad.

Click here to read the North County Times piece.

IMAGE: City of Carlsbad

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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