The city of San Diego’s impasse meeting with the Police Officers Association came and went today with no resolution, meaning the two sides are likely headed before the City Council on Tuesday to resolve the dispute.

I got a hold of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ final offer to the police. The mayor seeks a major change in the way the city handles health care for retirees. Instead of officers receiving a set benefit at retirement, the city would agree to put aside a certain amount of money in what’s known as a defined-contribution plan. Such a plan provides the city more certainty when it comes to funding the benefit.

The city also calls for big changes in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, known as DROP. Those include increasing the age when members can take part and eliminating the option to roll over DROP accounts into an annuity.

The city says it will negotiate over the elimination of any DROP element that the court determines can be negotiated, the subject of a lawsuit the city filed last week against the union.

Police union President Brian Marvel said the union wants a study of the costs of DROP to have hard data for negotiations, but the city has so far dragged its feet on the issue.

“Why get rid of a benefit that keeps people here without doing a study to see if it’s cost-neutral or does make the city money?” Marvel said.

The union put out a press release saying the mayor’s proposal, if adopted by the City Council, will lead to an exodus of experienced officers and that residents need police officers “now more than ever” because crime tends to rise in a recession.

The mayor’s proposal also calls for the city to stop paying a 4.1 percent portion of the employee’s retirement contribution, something the police have agreed to. Marvel said the police have not agreed to reduce their salaries by 1.5 percent, as the city’s seeking, and instead looked to consider instituting furloughs and adjusting their holiday pay.

The mayor has declared that talks have stalled with all five labor unions. If agreements aren’t reached this week, the disputes will head before the City Council, which can vote to impose contracts on employees.


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