The Police Benevolent Association held a ratification vote on Wednesday, Dec. 5 with the aim of resolving a “fiscal cliff” pension dispute that has lingered since the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year and approved the new deal.
The union officers will now contribute 16 percent toward their pensions that will be retroactive to last Oct. 1, according to City Manager Ron Gorland. But this is just a one-year solution that the city council would formally approve at their Dec. 10 regular meeting next Monday.
For the last 60 days, officers have had to contribute what they deemed a “crippling rate” of 23 percent toward their pensions. This was because both sides failed to reach an agreement by the Sept. 30 deadline.
Since then, each side took positions behind a line drawn in the sand. The city says it offered the union a deal that would decrease the amount officers pay toward their pensions in exchange for giving up other benefits. The union cried foul, calling the offer unfair because it did little to help the rank-and-file officers.
“It’s a two-year deal to Sept. 30, 2013,” Gorland wrote via text message to the Gazette on Monday night, Dec. 3. “It is a stop-gap deal that only reduces their costs — but not the city’s.”
Gorland added that using excess Chapter 185 funds next year will hopefully keep the officers below 20 percent during the second year.
“It’s unfair to the Miami Springs police workforce which serve its residents so honorably to be so disproportionately treated than the standard in the industry,” said PBA President John Rivera, also reached by the Gazette late Monday night. “City leaders cannot truly expect to lure quality officers to serve their constituents if they do not become competitive and attract the very best.”
A key point of contention between the two sides has been how to handle the Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, which allows employees to technically retire but continue working while banking their pension. A PBA attorney last September had sought to remove the cost-sharing mechanism from the pension plan and insisted that no changes be made to the DROP plan.
As a concession, the city had asked that union officers alter their DROP so as to be precluded from accruing additional benefits under the pension plan.
“This is a short-term solution and a long-term contract with the PBA still needs to be negotiated,” City Attorney Jan Seiden said at the Nov. 26 council meeting.
Both sides will continue to work toward hashing out a new collective-bargaining agreement, as the last one expired in 2009.