City drafts response to Grand Jury’s findings about puffed-up public employee benefits

Mayor Al Pinheiro has written a response to the June 13 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report that highlighted seven recommendations to reduce Gilroy’s public employee benefits, noting that the City “shares the Grand Jury’s concerns.”

City Council will vote to approve the letter, which is currently in draft form, during its regular Monday, Aug. 6 meeting.

“The Gilroy City Council is also committed to continuing to review ways to appropriately reduce employee costs in the future; as we work to ensure that the public gets the maximum value for their tax dollar,” the letter reads.

The Grand Jury’s seven recommendations include: increasing retirement age, increasing the amount public employees pay into their benefits, adopting pension plan caps to close the “unfunded liability burden” that cities have “pushed to future generations.”

“Additional changes to the pension benefits may be a subject of future negotiations with bargaining units,” Pinheiro’s response reads.

The City said it will take the Grand Jury’s recommendations “into consideration for any future benefit changes,” but pointed to all the cuts to public employee benefits they have achieved already, such as requiring police and fire employees to pay 9 percent into their own retirement and the plan that attempts to defer public employee retirement age by cutting pensions for younger retirees.

If Council approves the response after discussion and public comment, the letter will be sent to the Grand Jury on or before Sept. 14, the final deadline to submit a formal response. 

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