A new mayor will take the lead Wednesday for the Pacific Grove City Council with a new list of goals, but the fight over employee pension costs will be a continuing holdover.

Mayor-elect Bill Kampe and Councilwoman-elect Casey Lucius will be sworn into office, while incumbent Councilmen Robert Huitt and Daniel Miller — the other winners in the Nov. 6 election — will start new four-year terms. Kampe beat outgoing Mayor Carmelita Garcia by a nearly 70 to 30 percent margin.

In an initial move, Kampe wrote a report to council members proposing they designate three issues — water, pension liability and business vitality — as priority council projects.

But Kampe's discussion of Pacific Grove's future employee pension costs drew a withering critique of the new mayor's posture on a hot-button issue in the long-running dispute.

Kampe says in his report that the council recognizes the "very large underfunding" of the CalPERS pension fund and "high annual costs," but he says the council has rejected a strategy pushed by pension critics to try to invalidate high-cost pensions for public safety employees.

The council, in a disputed 2002 action, approved the more expensive pension plans, which critics claim was an illegal decision for a number of reasons. They have pushed for the city to use the issue to lower its pension liability.


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But Kampe, in his report, says: "We acknowledged defects in the process for (the 2002 approval) according to the three available payment options. We also determine that it is not fruitful to contest the validity (of the pension plan) for public safety employees."

The new mayor recommends the council look toward "forward-looking action alternatives."

In an email response to Kampe's report, pension critic John Moore says it appears the council is being directed "to take a dive" on the issue.

"We are entitled to know who on the council feels that this city is worth fighting for, and the others, like you, who do not," Moore said in his email.

On a related issue, council members Miller and Ken Cuneo are asking for a hiring freeze for the police department, and a policy of hiring new officers under terms of a new state pension reform law that would allow the city to require new hires to cover up to 50 percent of their pension costs.

"As the city begins to hire 'new employees' in its police department, there will be extensive savings," Miller and Cuneo say in a council report.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.


If you go

·What:Pacific Grove City Council meeting

·When:6 p.m. Wednesday

·Where:Council chambers, 300 Forest Ave.