LONG BEACH - A ballot initiative that would roll back nonpublic safety employee salaries by two years inched ahead this week.
On Tuesday, the City Council reviewed potential ballot language for the measure, which was proposed after the city's largest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, rejected a pension reform agreement in August.
According to an analysis, the initiative would save $29 million per year, $9.4 million of it in the city's cash-strapped general fund.
Council members also authorized City Manager Pat West to continue to meet with labor representatives on the possible election even as negotiators try to strike a deal to stave off going to voters in a spring special election.
Mayor Bob Foster said he wouldn't push the ballot measure if the IAM agrees to pension givebacks.
"I do not prefer to do pension reform or any other kind of employment reform this way, but it does need to be done, I'm committed to it, and if we can't reach an agreement I will do everything I can to make sure it's on the ballot," Foster said.
The IAM offered a counterproposal last month that was similar to one the about 3,600-member union previously nixed.
Workers would receive a 7percent wage increase that remains in the IAM's current contract, retroactive to Oct. 1. They would then return 6 percent of their salaries to the city to boost their share of pension costs from 2 percent to a full pickup of 8 percent.
New hires would receive reduced benefits, with 2 percent of their salaries accruing as pension for each year worked, pay a pension cost pickup of 7 percent and be eligible to retire at age 60. Current employees would continue to get 2.5 percent of salary each year and retire at 55.
The IAM's proposal also sought a guarantee of no further layoffs among represented employees for the next year. The city's version did not include the provision.
Long Beach has not yet responded to the IAM offer.
The previous deal was expected to save $3.9 million in the general fund and $12.2 million across all funds in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Long Beach is launching an anti-fraud campaign to educate employees, vendors and the public about the importance of stopping fraud against the city.
The effort, announced by City Auditor Laura Doud, is called "Let's Be Clear About Stopping Fraud" and coincides with International Fraud Awareness Week, Nov. 11-17.
The fraud awareness and prevention campaign includes a new fraud policy adopted by the City Council on Tuesday to be inserted into the city's employee and elected official ethics guide. Fliers issued by the City Auditor's Office will also give examples of possible city-related fraud such as a vendor submitting a false billing to the city or a citizen not receiving a receipt when paying for a city license or permit.
"I recognize that most city employees approach their service to the public with integrity," Doud said in a statement.
"However, it is important to acknowledge that fraud, waste and abuse can and does occur, so we need the help and cooperation of all city employees and residents to report suspected fraud against the city."
In September, a former employee of the Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau was sentenced to three years in state prison for stealing $600,000 during her career with the department.
Jongluck Mutrais, 59, was ordered to repay the money in restitution to the city for her crime, a felony.
Suspected fraud against Long Beach can be confidentially reported at a 24-hour hotline at 888-Fraud-07 (888-372-8307) or online at www.cityauditorlauradoud.com.
Staff writer Tracy Manzer contributed.