The changes to the Deferred Retirement Option Program that were imposed on city employees as part of recently approved contracts won’t take effect unless all employees vote to approve the measure, according to retirement system officials.

Rebecca Wilson, chief of staff of the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, said the city charter makes clear that all current employees must sign off on several changes to DROP that were part of the contracts imposed on the police, blue-collar workers and city management employees not represented by a union. All changes were to take effect July 1.

“It has nothing to do with anything other than this is what the law is and we follow the law,” Wilson said.

Here’s the provision of the city charter Wilson is referring to:

No ordinance amending the retirement system which affects the benefits of any employee under such retirement system shall be adopted without the approval of a majority vote of the members of said system.

In the contracts imposed on police and blue-collar workers, the city raised the eligibility age to enter DROP by five years and eliminated an annuity option for workers who haven’t entered DROP by July 1. The mayor and City Council also said the city’s non-union employees could no longer take part in DROP.

All of those changes must be approved by current employees, Wilson said. That includes not only the members who would be affected by the changes, but the white-collar employees, deputy city attorneys, firefighters and elected officials who didn’t have the same terms imposed on them.

Wilson said SDCERS is waiting for the city to pass an ordinance codifying the terms. Once it does, she estimated it would take between three and six months for SDCERS to conduct a vote by phone on the issue.

RANI GUPTA

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