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Newport Beach lifeguards to have generous pensions scaled back

June 28, 2011 |  8:18 am

Lifeguard

Public pressure over their compensation packages has prompted Newport Beach lifeguards to bow to pressure from city leaders who sought to scale back their generous pension benefits.

The City Council on Tuesday is slated to approve a new contract with full-time lifeguards that would provide lower pension benefits for new employees and would require current guards to contribute more to their retirement costs, the Daily Pilot reported.

Newport is one of the coastal California cities clawing back lifeguard pension benefits. As local governments grapple with mounting retirement bills, officials have looked to the guards' "public safety" pensions as one place to trim.

"We're happy about the outcome for the taxpayer," said Councilwoman Leslie Daigle.

In 2010, Newport paid about $500,000 toward the 14 full-time lifeguards' pension plans.

Lifeguards currently have a contract that makes them eligible for a pension worth up to 90% of their largest paycheck at age 50. If the new contract is approved Tuesday, newly hired employees would have a pension worth up to 50% less.

Lifeguards will also pay 9% of their salaries toward pensions instead of the 3.5% they pay now.

The city's full-time guards were facing layoffs in the fiscal 2011-12 budget, which is up for adoption Tuesday, so they negotiated with City Manager Dave Kiff to trade pension cuts in exchange for jobs.

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-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News

Photo: A Newport Beach lifeguard reaches for his binoculars. Credit: Christina House / For the Times

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