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Fear not, retired San Diego city employees. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith says your health care benefits are safe.

Goldsmith deemed that health care benefits for retired city employees are guaranteed or “vested,” in the tome-like memorandum on pension and other retirement benefits he issued last week.

That means changes to the benefit could come only if the city gives retirees new perks that are comparable to ones it would take away.

It’s no secret that San Diego city leaders are trying to decrease the health care benefits given to employees upon their retirement. My story on this issue a few weeks ago prompted a few e-mails and calls from retired employees concerned about their benefits. But this opinion appears to settle the matter.

For current employees, it’s a different story. Goldsmith writes in his memorandum what he’s been saying for months: that active employees’ retirement health care benefits can be changed. Labor unions, not surprisingly, disagree. The city and some of the affected unions are studying retiree health care and plan to issue a report soon.

— LIAM DILLON

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