UPLAND - The City Council on Monday approved new employment contracts that include concessions offered by employees to help alleviate pressure on the city's budget.

The council approved the contracts with all seven employee groups, representing the city's 277 employees, who have agreed to pay their portion of their pensions, saving the city about $1.3 million annually when fully implemented.

"It's very difficult to give up something you have and I think what you really did was show a ton of good will to the residents of the community to help stabilize the financial situation we have," Councilman Glenn Bozar told employees Monday.

Some of the employee groups have agreed to begin paying their full pension beginning July 1, while the general and mid-management employee groups will tier their pensions and will be paying their full share in 2014.

Executive management employees, department heads and the city manager, agreed to pay their portion of their pensions in July 2012.

"In essence, they all agreed in some form to pay that pension cost," said Stephanie Mendenhall, the city's administrative services director.

All current employee contracts will expire in June.

The new contracts are through June 30, 2015 and also include changes required by the California Public Employees' Pension Reform Act of 2013, which raised the retirement age and lowered the amount of pension employees are eligible for upon retirement.

"Upland's city employees have taken action to protect the services provided to the citizens of the city of Upland," said Bob Blough, general manager of the San Bernardino Public Employees Association which represents Upland's general and mid-management employees.

"They are proud to be employees of the city, and look forward to the future improvement of Upland's economic condition. We will closely monitor the city's handling of this new opportunity for the future."

In November the City Council gave City Manager Stephen Dunn approval to look into several ways to reduce costs to the city, including asking employee groups to make concessions.

Dunn's recommendations also included looking into outsourcing public safety services as well as contracting out other city services with the goal of freeing up money in the annual budget.

Since all of the city's employees have agreed to the concessions, outsourcing public safety has been taken off the table.

"We came to you as a body in late November and told you that this was very unusual time for the city and that it was a time that we all had to work together to save our city," said Councilman Brendan Brandt to the employees on Monday. "You just didn't give that lip service. You knew we had a deadline that we had to get these done."

Upland firefighters are already paying 5.8 percent of their pension contribution.

In October, fire and police unions approached the city with an offer to pay their full pension in return for a contract extension.

The City Council rejected the offer because agreeing to the extension would have prevented them from considering outsourcing.

"Obviously this has been a long, challenging process for the whole city and our biggest concern during this whole process was the overall safety for the citizens," said Michael Carney, president of the Upland Firefighters Association.

"Even though our department has dealt with a lot of challenges over the past few years, we were able to come through once again and help the city and continue to provide a high level of service to our citizens."

Some employee groups made other changes to their contracts:

The city's general employees who do not have health coverage with the city will have an option to cash out $300 of their cafeteria benefit.

The Upland firefighters have agreed to allow the city to reduce minimum staffing requirements on up to 45 shifts from 12 association members to 11, which will expire in June 30, 2016.

Upland police captains who use less than 40 hours of sick leave per year will be allowed to request to cash out 20 hours of sick leave. They will not be required to deposit the 60 hours annually from the vacation buy-back program into their retirement health savings account.

Upland police officers will also be allowed to cash out 20 hours of sick leave if they use less than 40 hours per year. Officers who have used at least 40 hours of accrued vacation per year may also request to cash out up to 40 hours.


Reach Sandra via email, call her at 909-483-8555, or find her on Twitter @UplandNow.