Sanders said Friday he’ll gather signatures to put a measure before voters that would eliminate guaranteed pensions for all future employees, excluding police officers and firefighters, and replace them with 401(k) accounts similar to what many private-sector workers receive. Pensions would not change for retired or existing employees.
“I heard the voters loud and clear. They want definitive solutions to our pension problems,” Sanders said. “While the solution I’m about to propose will not in the near term solve our budget problems, it will ensure we never end up here again.”
The next scheduled election is in June 2012, but it could appear on an earlier ballot if the state calls a special election next year.
The mayor’s plan comes after the resounding defeat of Proposition D, a Nov. 2 ballot measure that would have increased the city’s sales tax to solve a budget crisis. Sanders also promised to move forward with the 10 changes to city operations and pensions that were tied to Proposition D as part of his fiscal recovery plan.
In addition, Sanders said he will rethink how city government operates by exploring how to merge certain departments and possibly allow private companies to run city-owned golf courses and airports.
All aspects of the plan — besides the public vote — would require five votes from the City Council.
The city has a $73 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The gap is expected to continue to grow as the city’s pension payments balloon each year and gobble up more and more of the $1.1 billion operating budget.
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