SH City Council whittles down pension benefit tab

<strong>The City of Signal Hill celebrated the recent promotion of Brian Leyn (left) who was promoted to sergeant with the Signal Hill Police Department in June. His wife, Deanna Leyn, pinned a sergeant’s badge on his uniform Tuesday evening during the City Council meeting.</strong>

CJ Dablo
Staff Writer

The Signal Hill City Council is whittling away at the City’s daunting cost of employee pensions, and they didn’t shrink from starting at the top. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to contribute an additional amount of their salary to their retirement benefits in an attempt to shave away at rising pension benefit costs.
While City Council, department heads and managers have already been contributing between three and five percent of their incomes toward their retirement costs, this latest action will require an additional two percent from these City officials and management-level staff.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) had already predicted that pension benefit costs for the City will increase approximately $357,000 by Fiscal Year 2014-2015, according to a City staff report.
“This increase was necessitated by the losses that CalPERS accrued in their portfolio and due to their management misuse of the funds,” Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt said Tuesday evening.
CalPERS provides retirement benefit services to more than 3,000 public employers in the state. They have handled pension benefits for about 1.6 million public employees, retirees, their family members and other beneficiaries, according to their website.
Honeycutt confirmed Thursday that the City has budgeted $2.3 million that would pay for the CalPERS costs for the current fiscal year. This amount includes both employer and employee contributions.
On Tuesday, Honeycutt also outlined other pension reforms that City Council had already approved last year. The measures raised the retirement age for newer hires, changed the formula that determined the amount of benefits to be paid to a retiree, and required all employees to contribute at least two percent of their compensation towards their pension benefits. The contribution percentage amounts were determined on an employee’s date of hire.
According to the analysis presented by the staff report, the additional contribution will offer an estimated $36,200 in savings for the current fiscal year.

Other City Council highlights:

Mayor Larry Forester recognized Brian Leyn, who had been recently promoted to the position of sergeant with the Signal Hill Police Department.
The City Council meeting scheduled for Aug. 2 has been moved to Monday, Aug. 1 at 7pm. The regularly scheduled City Council meeting fell on the same day as the National Night Out event. The change will now allow council members to support the event hosted by the Signal Hill Police Department.
Forester also recognized July as Parks and Recreation Month and presented a proclamation to Pilar Alcivar-McCoy, who serves as the community services director for the City. Alcivar-McCoy also submitted a revised PowerPoint presentation that promoted the City’s parks.
Discussions surrounding a revised policy affecting trees owned by the City had been tabled for a future City Council meeting in August. According to Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt, the City needed to make further revisions to the tree policy that was adopted last October; however, staff requested additional time to refine the policy to address how residents can make requests to the City when they need a City tree planted, removed or maintained.
In a second reading, the City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that would grant a pipeline franchise to Texaco Downstream Properties, Incorporated (TPDI) on a 15-year term. According to a staff report from the public works department, TPDI has owned two franchises and will combine them into one. The report indicated that the new franchise will be operating about 14,163 feet of pipeline to move oil and petroleum products.
The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will be Tuesday, July 19 at 7pm in the City Council Chambers.

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