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City moves to cut employee health benefit costs

Submitted by on 1, October 5, 2009 – 5:50 am4 Comments

The City Council is set to consider a resolution Tuesday night that could effectively curb medical and dental benefits for all new public safety hires.

If the resolution is approved, medical and dental benefits for retirees who are hired after November 1 would be subject to a new agreement to be hammered out with the city’s police and firefighter unions. Current employees would be covered by an existing agreement that gives them and their existing spouses full medical and dental coverage until they are eligible for Medicare, and then supplemental lifetime coverage for both the retired employee and his or her spouse after that.

City officials estimate that the benefits cost $2.1 million a year and that their cost is growing. An actuarial study released in December 2007 estimated their cost over 30 years at $75.4 million, more than the city’s entire general fund budget this year.

City leaders put the public safety benefit system, otherwise known as other post employment benefits or OPEB, in place in 1990.

The city’s police and firefighter unions agreed to talk about alternative benefit arrangements as part of their most recent contracts.

The resolution is on the council’s consent agenda, meaning it is not scheduled for a public hearing or debate. But the council could pull the item for discussion, so stay tuned for more info if they do.

Separately, the council is set to approve a contract for four new, marked Crown Victoria police vehicles to replace four others that the department says are in critical condition. The money for the contract, which is not to exceed $100,000, is already in the Police Department’s budget.

The purchase will mark a return to the trusty Crown Vic Police Interceptor, the department’s vehicle of choice for nearly two decades. The department had purchased three Dodge Chargers in an effort to reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions, but they’ve had a host of problems with the vehicles that include a higher repair rate, problems with emergency equipment installation and functionality, visibility and ergonomic problems. So they’re going back to the Crown Vics.

The department will purchase the new vehicles from a vendor in Southern California that has them in stock, and the vehicles they’re replacing will be sold at auction. Oh, and another tidbit from the staff report on this one: The city is in the process of hiring a consultant to secure grants to convert the city’s vehicle fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. They’re saying the process will take a year to implement.

Oh, and one last thing: City staff is recommending the council approve the Boys and Girls Club of Alameda’s request for $2 million of the city’s Measure WW regional park bond money for its planned West End facility, with a twist: Half the money would have to be repaid to the city for park projects within five years. More Tuesday.


  • Miriam says:

    Are the police cars being replaced the newer Dodge Chargers or the older Crown Victorias? (Who would buy a Dodge Charger?)Are there any other Ford models that can be equipped with police packages? Someone needs to buy the APD a subscription to Consumer Reports.

  • Another Miriam says:

    I am one of the first to call city departments to task for bad decisions but this is not appropriate here. Car purchases are negotiated by the State any cities just have the option of choosing the quantity. . They are the ones who got the Chargers, but I think that was because Crown Vics were out of production by Ford.

    • Hi AM,

      That's another interesting point. So are you saying that the local PD did not choose to purchase the Chargers, that someone at the state level did that?

      The police department representative who addressed the council on this item last night did say that Ford has said several times that they planned to stop making the Crown Vics but that they have not yet done so. He said the original date was 2008, and that the date has since been extended to 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile, he said that he hasn't heard anything good about the Chargers from any of his colleagues in other law enforcement agencies.

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