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The city of San Diego’s retirement system voted Friday to change its calculation for the city’s annual pension payment, potentially sparking a lawsuit from the city’s police union.

The decision forces the city and its employees to share the costs for disability benefits, reducing the city’s pension payment this year by $2.6 million to $229.1 million. City employees now owe $3.3 million more to the system.

Jeff Jordon, vice president of the city’s police union, called the decision “unconscionable,” saying it went against the city’s past practice, charter and municipal code.

“We’ll be exploring all our options to keep what happened at (the retirement system) today from being implemented,” Jordon said.

The decision, Jordon said, results in a de facto pay cut for city employees and circumvented a contract the police union negotiated this year that included no compensation decreases. He argued the move would cost the city more in the long run from having to train and replace officers who would leave the city for another department.

At issue was the same charter provision the city sued the retirement system over this month.

In a press release, Goldsmith called the decision “a first step,” even though the board didn’t go as far as he requested toward changing its previous charter interpretation. The retirement system did not divide the pension system’s investment losses and other shortfalls between the city and its employees like Goldsmith had wanted. Goldsmith said the retirement board’s decision showed it had been misapplying the city charter for years.

The retirement board voted 8-3 in favor of the change with board President Mark Sullivan, Alan Arrollado and Edward Kitrosser voting against the decision. Sullivan and Arrollado are the board’s police and fire representatives.

— LIAM DILLON

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