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Leader Editorial: The city planes its pension liability

The opinion of the Leader

December 13, 2013

For the past few years, states and cities across the nation faced with ballooning pension obligations for their government workers have been overhauling pensions as a way to curb costs.

The city of Burbank has been aggressively addressing the pension issue here. Even though its unfunded pension liability is significantly higher than it was a year ago, the city did invest $13.4 million last fiscal year to tamp down the liability growth, a move that is expected to save the municipality $720,000 annually. It has also been negotiating with its employee unions to reduce the money it contributes to each worker’s pension and asking the employees themselves to pay their full share of a pension contribution.

This latter tack is meeting with some success; this week we report that such an agreement was worked out with the Firefighters Chief Officers’ Unit. Specifically, the six battalion chiefs comprising the unit will receive a 6% salary increase in exchange for their agreement to ante up their own 9% employee pension contribution.

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Although the net savings for the city is just over $9,000 over the length of this particular contract, it is all to the good. We applaud officials for approaching the pension matter creatively and for skillfully negotiating outcomes that will put the city on better financial footing. After all, money earmarked to support a growing retirement population can’t be made available for other civic needs, such as public safety, street maintenance, libraries or parks.

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