Carlsbad Imposes Reduced Pension Benefits on New Firefighters

There was an interesting story out of Carlsbad last week.  (See articles in the North County Times here and here.)  The Carlsbad City Council voted to impose a two-tiered retirement system on its firefighters after reaching impasse in bargaining.  Under the two-tiered retirement system, existing employees will continue to accrue benefits under the 3% at 50 formula that is widely used in public safety.  However, new firefighters will be under a 2% at 50 formula.  According to the article, the move was necessitated to keep Carlsbad in “good fiscal health.” 

What is interesting is that the city is also planning a ballot initiative that would require voter approval to increase pensions in the future.  That will likely require additonal bargaining with the union under Seal Beach Police Officers Association v. City of Seal Beach (1984) 36 Cal.3d 591.  However, once bargaining has been completed (or impasse reached) there is nothing preventing the citizens of Carlsbad from adopting such an initiative.  Up in Northern California, Menlo Park is attempting a similar type of initiative.  (See article here.)  There are also several other cities considering similar measures.  It will be interesting to see which of these pass on election day. 

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