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City executives offer to pay more into pensions

City CEO Tom Hatch and other Costa Mesa department heads say they can pay about 39% of costs, which figures to save about $50,000 from city's budget.

January 27, 2012|By Mike Reicher

COSTA MESA — Some department heads have agreed to contribute more to their retirement funds, the city announced Friday.

City CEO Tom Hatch and others will pay about 39% of their pension costs, up from 31%, assuming the City Council approves the increase in February. The rest of their retirement payments would come from the city's general funds.

The announcement comes as Hatch and the council majority seek to pressure firefighters and police officers to contribute more toward their retirement accounts. The city pays about $15 million each year toward employee pensions out of its $110-million budget.

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"Our leadership team felt like we couldn't be asking employees to make their full pension contribution unless we did it first," Hatch said.

The total estimated savings to the city's budget would be about $50,000, according to a news release.

The increase would apply to the department heads in Economic Development, Finance, Public Services and Development. Other employees in those departments work under a collective bargaining agreement, and their contribution will remain at 31%.

Police Chief Tom Gazsi, who is new to the post, will also increase his contribution by an undetermined amount, the news release says.

Most firefighters pay about 2% of their retirement cost, although they paid 12% until a contract clause recently expired, and police officers pay 12%.

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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