Measure B Changes Could Go to November Ballot

Voters may get a chance to modify Measure B, if the City Council agrees to place proposed changes on the fall ballot.

One measure would give former San Jose cops the same benefits they had when they left the city—if they return before Jan. 1, 2017.

Another would reinforce an earlier council decision to guarantee a city job for police and firefighters hurt in the line of duty. It would allow them to work for a year to qualify for disability retirement.

A major provision in Measure B, which voters passed in 2012, made it tougher for public safety employees to claim disability retirement. A city audit the year prior found that a disproportionate number of San Jose’s police and firefighters were claiming disability retirement, and then taking full-time jobs in other cities.

Mayor Chuck Reed led the Measure B campaign, telling voters that over-generous retirement deals contributed to the city’s annual retirement costs exploding from $73 million to $245 million between 2002 and 2012.

The 2012 pension reforms also bumped new hires to a lower-tier benefit plan in a bid to save the city some $20 million a year. Existing employees who wanted to earn the same pension would have to squirrel away 16 percent more of their paycheck into a retirement fund to make up the difference. Or accept a lower pension.

While reforms were supposed to curb soaring retirement costs, the police union blames the knocked-down benefits plan for scaring away hundreds of officers.

San Jose has been locked in a court battle with unions over the constitutionality of the reforms since the measure’s passage. In June, after a judge ruled the city could not legally revoke an employee’s vested rights to a promised compensation, the city appealed the decision.

The two-year-old reforms have played a central role in this year’s mayoral race, too. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who’s running for mayor against downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo, wants to settle the legal battle and take up the issue at the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, Liccardo remains pro-Measure B. Reed wants the case to go to the state Supreme Court and set a precedent for other cities grappling with burgeoning pension costs.

The council must vote by Tuesday to meet the deadline for placing those modifications on the November ballot.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 5, 2014:

  • The city says it needs $157 million in the next year for storm and sewer service. The charge should show up on the next round of property tax bills.
  • Certified primary election results: Magdalena Carrasco ousted Xavier Campos in District 5, Don Rocha won re-election in 9 and the Measure B library parcel tax passed in a landslide victory. That leaves the remaining contests between Cortese and Liccardo for mayor, Paul Fong and Chappie Jones for D1, Raul Peralez and Don Gagliardi for D3 and Maya Esparza and Tam Nguyen for D7.
  • The state terminated Casino M8trix’s contract with its funding source, Team View Player Services, in July amid allegations against its owner of hiding $110 million in profits from regulators. Now, the city has to complete a background investigation into the casino’s new funding source, a process that could take six months and cost $80,000 more than anticipated. Casino M8trix will pick up the tab.
  • Tuesday’s the deadline for the council to decide whether to put a tax increase on the fall ballot. Options include: a general purpose sales tax, a designated public safety sales tax, a special street maintenance sales tax and one for marijuana collectives.
  • The council could also give voters the option of granting the city retirement boards full autonomy, something several union reps, city workers and retirees opposed in earlier meetings. For more on that, click here.
  • Another potential ballot measure would make all bargaining negotiations between the city and its employees open to the public.
  • By moving around staff schedules, San Jose libraries could extend their open hours and make the most of their limited budget, according to a March audit.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Correction: A previous version of this story assigned the annual "non-personal/equipment" budget for SJPD to the firm Conroy & Associates. San Jose Inside regrets the error.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

12 Comments

  1. Jen and SJI is completely wrong about …” total apportionment for background check firm Conroy & Associates to $23.8 million.”

    (fyi the link to the supporting Doc is wrong too here is a good one:

    http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/33309 )

    Why is SJI wrong? This is a book keeping / administrative adjustment to the SJPD BUDGET under the heading of “Non-Personal/Equipment”

    There is a table titled “Budgeet Reference” at the endo of page 3 of the memo that shows the line item amount for this years budget being $23,765,517. And the Agenda item request to increase that amount by $80,000.

    Why does the budget need to be increased? See Page 2 under “Analysis” where it explains that PT Gaming already deposited $80k with the City to cover the cost of the Backgrounds.

    This is nothing more that the City doing what it is obligated to to do to account for that $80k.

    This in no way shape or form means that Conroy’s total bill is $23million it means SJI can’t read and/or comprehend what it reports with any credibility.

    SJI is slipping. News? No, its nonsense! (MWFB for posterity)

  2. “total apportionment for background check firm Conroy & Associates to $23.8 million”

    Jennifer, with math like that there is a position for you in the White House.

  3. Is jennifer Wadsworth still in elementary school (no offense to elementary school kids)?? because her investigative skills , research , writing and Math could all use some serious work .

  4. Whatever the cost may be for background checks, it should be borne by M8Trix, not SJ taxpayers.

    • Whether it is a work permit or a full-fledged gaming license, the applicant pays the fees, not the tax payers.

  5. Well San Jose you got what you wished for this Chuck & Clowns always give you. No bond measures which means no money for public safety or money to fix streets, etc.. Thank you Sammy (I want to be like Chuck)

    Vote Dave for mayor.

    • Pop Quiz Retired: Which one of these was Reed’s VP and served longer as an SJ public servant a) Cortese or b) Liccardo

  6. There’s so much talk about Measure B, and reforming it, and defending it in court – is it just me, or is all of that a colossal waste of limited taxpayer revenue? Instead of continuing to throw good money after bad, why don’t we ask our elected representatives to negotiate a sustainable system with the employees who keep our city running?

    We need our city employees, and we don’t have a lot to recommend us at the best of times – no stock options, no employee ownership deals, no Silicon Valley salaries, just lots of hard work, dealing with the public, without the right to refuse service, very little individual flexibility in pay, benefits, or working conditions. Oh, and let’s not forget that public employees are often the scapegoats for all the problems imaginable.

    Disclaimer: neither I nor any member of my family has ever been an employee of San Jose, nor has any member of my household been a member of a labor union in the United States. I do, however, pay property taxes in San Jose, so I like to think my opinion matters when it comes to how those dollars are spent.