Council extends police contract

Members vote 4 to 3 to accept union's offer to keep pension contribution at 4.25%. Don Hansen calls the move 'shortsighted and misguided.'

August 03, 2011|By Mona Shadia,

Despite pleas from Huntington Beach Councilman Don Hansen to turn down an offer from the police union to extend its contract with some employee concessions, the City Council approved it Monday.

"I think it's a shortsighted and misguided decision, and I think the council has essentially pretty much surrendered any of our negotiating positions to the police union," he said after the vote.

The council voted 4 to 3 to extend the contract, which keeps the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn.'s pension contribution at 4.25%.


Had the council turned down the association's offer, the contribution would have dropped to 2.25% until the contract would be back up for renewal in March.

Hansen said if the council had waited until March, the city would have had more leverage.

"It's a decision between a short-term patch and a long-term solution, and I feel we were baited into taking a short-term deal at the expense of a true fix to a flawed pension system," Hansen said.

A week before the council meeting, Hansen sent out a mass email, dubbing it an "action alert," in opposition to extending the association's contract.

In his email, Hansen urged Huntington Beach residents to ask the council to vote against the extension, saying it locks the city in for another two years without establishing a new retirement tier.

"We should not miss an opportunity to create a second-tier retirement program," Hansen said in an interview. "Unless we put that in the agreement now, we're essentially giving up any chances of doing so until late 2013."

On the other hand, Councilman Joe Shaw emailed residents asking them to think about what the city might lose if the current offer was rejected.

He warned that Huntington Beach could become the next Costa Mesa, which has given layoff notices to more than 200 employees, if the council did not consider the savings offered by the police association.

"What Don wants is a confrontation, so we can have an ideological battle like what's happening in Costa Mesa," Shaw said before the meeting. "I don't want that. I don't want to disrespect our employees. I want us to get something now and keep the concessions we have so we can build on that."

While establishing a new retirement tier is the wave of the future, association President Kreg Muller said it would not be wise at this time because it could prevent Huntington Beach from attracting experienced officers, especially when the city is getting ready to hire three new cops.

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