The Lodi City Council approved a budget Wednesday night that includes employees giving up at least $2.6 million in salary and benefits.
The council has approved deals with 11 of the city’s 13 bargaining groups to deal with stagnating revenues and rising medical, pension and workers’ compensation costs.
City negotiators also have a deal with the police dispatchers and are planning to reach an agreement with the Lodi Police Officers Association officers by the end of the week. Both of those agreements will be approved at the June 15 meeting.
“This process would not be possible without the tremendous help of our city employees,” Deputy City Manager Jordan Ayers said.
The council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2011-12, which starts July 1.
City staff told employees they needed to approve concessions to close a large gap created from rising costs. The deficit consists of the following increases: $1.2 million for pensions, $900,000 for medical insurance and $2.2 million for workers’ compensation.
For most groups, the concessions resulted in about a 10-percent reduction in salary, city staff said. Each bargaining group agreed to a different set of concessions to close the gap.
“I just think it’s commendable that everyone stepped up to the plate, especially when it meant that some people needed to look into their refrigerators and make some major changes, which is never easy,” Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said.
Furlough Fridays will continue throughout the city. Some groups, like mid-management, general services and maintenance and operators, have decided to also take floating furlough holidays that can be used at any time.
One group, fire mid-management, approved 207 floating furlough hours because fixed furlough days are not conducive to that department.
For the first time in the city’s history, 10 unions will be paying at least 1 percent of their pension costs. Some agreed to pay more, including fire mid-management at 3.3 percent and the Lodi Firefighters Association at 5.3 percent.
The executive managers and employees appointed by the council — including the city manager, city attorney and city clerk — agreed to pay 7 percent of their pension costs with the hope it would set the tone for future negotiations.
Another big change is in health care. Employees in eight groups agreed to either take the lowest-cost HMO or make up the difference out of their own pocket if they choose a more expensive plan.
The city is also continuing to reduce its workforce by offering employees a two-year service retirement credit to encourage workers to retire early. By June 30, 15 more employees will retire early, Ayers said.
Since the 2009 to 2010 budget, the city has decreased its number of employees by 33, to a total of 388.
“Our payback on those are within months. It’s a good business deal, and a good way to reduce the work force and manage department staffing changes,” City Manager Rad Bartlam said.
To see a graph listing all of the employee concessions by union, go to www.lodinews. com/blogs/city_buzz.