City Hall Watch: Change in retiree benefits will be up to voters in June

With unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors, a measure was approved for placement on the June ballot Tuesday to reduce The City’s projected $4 billion retiree health care costs during the next 30 years.

The measure, which was co-authored by Mayor Gavin Newsom, includes provisions that establish an interest-earning retiree health care fund with contributions from new city employees — 2 percent of their paycheck — with another 1 percent from The City.

The charter amendment would also require newcity employees to work for 20 years to obtain full retiree health benefits, which current workers received after five years of service.

In exchange for organized labor’s support of the measure, an amendment to the measure includes pension increases for existing and new city employees.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, an author of the measure, said without the changes, The City would be “financially crippled.”

The retiree fund is expected to lower the city’s $4 billion liability to $2.9 billion “immediately,” according to a recent report by the board’s budget analyst.

“We can’t afford not to do it,” Newsom told reporters Monday.

In 2000, The City spent approximately $17 million in retiree health benefits; in this fiscal year, those costs have skyrocketed to $117 million, according to the Controller’s Office.

IN OTHER ACTION

ACCESSIBILITY RAMP CONTINUED: A vote was continued to this Tuesday on a $975,000 project that would install a handicap-accessible ramp in the Board of Supervisors chambers, leading to the seat of the board president, to make it ADA compliant. That cost does not include the cost of holding board meetings in a different location during the estimated five months of construction.

SUPERVISORS URGE MAYOR TO REFILL VACANT POSITIONS: In an 8-2 vote, a resolution was adopted urging Mayor Gavin Newsom to re-instate the hiring of all vacant recreation director positions recently frozen by Newsom due to a projected budget deficit. Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Carmen Chu opposed the resolution.

DALY REAPPOINTED TO BUDGET COMMITTEE: Supervisor Chris Daly was appointed to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee by board President Aaron Peskin. The committee will deliberate on Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed city budget for the nextfiscal year, which begins on July 1. Last year, Peskin removed Daly from the committee, which Daly chaired, after Daly engaged in fiery public feuds with Newsom about funding priorities. Supervisor Jake McGoldrick was appointed as chair of the committee.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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