Redding’s new city manager, his assistant and 50 other department heads, managers and supervisors will begin contributing to their retirement costs in a move the City Council hopes will be followed by other employee groups.
The council voted 5-0 to require the non-represented management team to begin making a 2 percent contribution to the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) plan. The action will save the city an estimated $134,500 a year, with $38,000 of that returning to the general fund, Personnel Director Sheri DeMaagd said.
A drop in the bucket, considering Redding has $207 million (and growing) in unfunded pension liabilities, but a step in the right direction. “This is the beginning of a great effort,” Mayor Brent Weaver said while promising that work in the months and years ahead to reduce the city’s liabilities will be ongoing. “Tonight is the first of many actions going forward.”
Councilwoman Francie Sullivan lauded the unrepresented management workers for being “the first to step up” and help the city confront its mounting pension obligations. “They’re giving up take-home pay, which is always difficult.”
“If this is handled correctly, we can emerge from this activity and be functional,” Weaver said, adding that one of the reasons new City Manager Barry Tippin outshone the other applicants for the position was the opinion that Tippin “had the best ideas for balancing the budget without going nuclear and tearing this community apart.”
Tackling the unfunded pension problem will require “hard work from all our city employees. We’re going to have to pull together,” Vice Mayor Kristen Schreder said. “Pension obligations are heavily on our minds,” Councilwoman Julie Winter agreed.
In a related move, the council voted 5-0 to approve Weaver’s response to the Shasta County Grand Jury report on the unfunded pension liabilities. The response, in essence, says the mayor agrees that the pension issue is a growing problem and that Tippin is hard at work on performance goals and agreements with the unions that are intended to result in a “balanced and stable 10-year General Fund financial plan.”
The city’s response goes on to state “By working with our labor partner groups, developing opportunities to increase revenues by finding new revenue sources and creating stimulus for economic development, the City of Redding should be able to mitigate the anticipated increases in CalPERS contributions and not impact services.”
In other action Wednesday, the council:
Picking up the trash
–Voted 5-0 to approve, in concept, a proposal by Tippin to shift responsibility for trash removal and shopping cart collection to the Solid Waste Division of the Public Works Department. Currently, the Police Department does the bulk of the cleanup and cart collection work with help from Development Services (code enforcement), Community Services (parks) and Public Works (solid waste utility).
“With the increase in the number of encampments and the proliferation of shopping cart theft, it is appropriate to better define the responsibilities more clearly from both a fiscal perspective as well as the administrative and functional roles,” Tippin said in his staff report.
Funding is already in place for the Solid Waste Division and the proposed changes will help streamline cleanup efforts on public property, Tippin said. Additionally, Solid Waste already has taken on state-mandated responsibilities for trash-related water quality and environmental stewardship of the Sacramento River and other waterways.
Dale Ball, one of the leaders of Shasta Support Service, a volunteer group that organizes community cleanups, voiced his support for the proposed change. “This is a great job of thinking outside the box” and a way to keep momentum going “when the money is not quite there.”
The formal shift in responsibilities will be considered by the council in September, Tippin said.
–Heard a presentation from Jim Phillips, a sculptor, whose “cloud column” was recently installed in the middle of the roundabout at Shasta View Drive and Old Alturas Road as part of Redding’s Art in Public Places Program.
Thanks to a grant from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation and donated services, no public funds were spent on the sculpture. Phillips thanked John Corless with Nichols Melburg & Rosetto for the installation design work; Azeddine Bahloul with CGI Technical Services for soil inspection services; Aaron Rader of Rader Excavating; Redding Electric Utility; and Public Works.
The cloud column is the third project donated by Phillips, a former high school art teacher. His other sculptures are at the Redding Library and Shasta College campuses in Redding and Red Bluff.