Litigation that sprang up in response to San Jose’s voter-approved pension reforms may complicate this year’s labor negotiations, City Attorney Richard Doyle warns.
Last summer’s passage of Measure B intended to make city employees contribute more of their pay toward retirement. City unions, retirees and employees filed lawsuits almost immediately after the initiative’s passage. Today, the city faces six lawsuits in Superior Court and seven unfair labor complaints filed with the Public Employees Relations Board.
Doyle says the cost for the city to deal with the lawsuits has topped $883,000. The litigation discussion has been deferred to next week’s council session, in part to cut down meeting time as well as give the Rules and Open Government Committee a chance to discuss it.
Meanwhile, the council is bracing for months of heated labor talks with its public employee unions as six contracts expire at the end of the fiscal year and five more have already expired and await successor agreements.
City Manager Debra Figone will deliver her annual labor negotiations report at Tuesday’s meeting, which will include plans to halt cuts in service and staffing. In the past decade, during which the per-employee cost rose by 61 percent from an average of $86,000 to $138,000, San Jose also cut its workforce by about 26 percent: from 7,418 to 5,495 workers. The city saw a $118 million shortfall in the 2010-11 fiscal year despite concessions made by employees and layoffs of 185 full-time and 21 part-time workers. This past fiscal year, the city tackled another general fund gap, this time of $115 million, and laid off 140 employees, including 66 cops, while slashing everyone else’s compensation by 10 percent.
“This is illustrative of the difficult fiscal situation faced by the city and its employees that, regardless of the significant sacrifices made by employees, the city could not avoid a reduction in its workforce,” Figone writes in her report going before council this week.
Figone repeatedly mentions the “sacrifices” already made by city employees. She uses the word nine times in the 19-page document.
Other items worth noting on the San Jose City Council agenda for January 29, 2013:
• The council will consider joining forces with a regional conservation plan that effectively lays down the law regionally for the Federal Endangered Species Act by imposing stricter city permitting requirements for developer. The Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan already teamed up with some South County cities, like Gilroy and Morgan Hill, and wants to strike up partnerships with San Jose and surrounding Silicon Valley cities.
A lot of the new rules in the Habitat Conservation Plan compare to existing permitting requirements in San Jose, including those related to protecting the burrowing owl, riparian setbacks and emissions-reduction measures.
• The city will transfer $10.1 million from its low-income housing funds to its successor redevelopment agency to pay off bond debt left behind when the state disbanded all redevelopment agencies. That means there will be less cash on hand for low- to moderate-income housing projects, but it will pay down some inherited redevelopment debt.
• A plan to rezone a 5.7-acre industrial lot to make way for commercial retailers goes before council. The property at the southwest corner of West San Carlos and Royal Avenue lies about a half-mile south of the HP Pavilion and neighbors Orchard Supply Hardware and an abandoned falling-apart house.
• Installing a remote management web-based intercom system at the Third Street Garage will help the city save money in its contract with the company it contracts to oversee public parking in downtown. That, with other contractual changes like a cut in service costs, will add up to a total savings over the next few years of $547,000.
• The city plans to ask Caltrans to reallocate up to $2.2 million of an existing grant to put a public trail between Selma Olinder Park and Story Road. It’s also submitting applications for more than $1 million in other grants to fund the projects, which would add 0.7 miles of paved trail with center striping, mile markers and educational plaques.
• A $1 million plan to upgrade city storm and sewer inlets will go before council, which will decide whether to award the contract to the lowest bidder. The project scheduled for April would repair storm sewers that tend to pool up during heavy rains.
WHAT: San Jose City Council meets
WHEN: Tuesday 1:30pm; 7pm
WHERE: City Council Chambers, City Hall, 220 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260