Modesto Transition Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution Retirement Plan, Measure Q Advisory Vote (November 2011)
Measure Q was one of three advisory votes on the November 8, 2011 ballot that invited the city's voters to consider a range of proposals for how the city might deal with city employee retirement benefits. Modesto's pensions are funded through CalPERS and cost the city about $20 million a year, not including the city's cost of health benefits for retired city workers. Modesto currently allows city workers to retire at age 50 with up to 90% of their pay.
Measure Q was supported by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association.
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure Q were signed by:
- Brad Hawn, Vice Mayor City of Modesto
- Cecil Russell, President and CEO, Modesto Chamber of Commerce
- Dave Thomas, President, Stanislaus Taxpayers Association
- Janice E. Keating, Former Modesto City Councilmember
They argued, in part:
- "It is clear that Modesto cannot afford to continue down the path of defined benefit plans. Doing so has crippled the city’s ability to budget long term."
- "Moving to a 401(k)-style plan that is more in line what private-sector employees are experiencing allows the city to better predict its future pension costs."
- "If we do not make this change, then the City of Modesto will have to turn to increased taxes or reduce services to fund the costs of public pensions."
- "Moving to a 401(k)-style pension plan will provide Modesto with a steady level of costs while still maintaining a top retirement plan for our valued city employees. Modesto will be greatly served by this proposal because it will be the best way to solve Modesto’s long-term structural deficit and avoid a massive unfunded liability."
The Modesto Police Officers Association opposed Measure Q.
The official voter guide arguments opposing Measure Q were signed by:
- Adam Christianson
- Susan Azevedo, Businesswoman
- Tim Tietjen, President, Modesto City Firefighters Association
- Diana L. May, Crime Victim Advocate
- Will O’Bryant, Former Councilman
- "Measure Q is a Sham! It is not legally possible for the city of Modesto to implement it as its proponents state. Measure Q ignores fact that city employees do not receive social security. It fails to mention that city taxpayers would have to pay millions of dollars to make such a switch occur, at the same time contributing to the new defi ned contribution system. The city council should do the math. Do not let them backdoor major policy changes without identifying the costs. We’ve been through that before (remember Village One). The City and its employees have already agreed to eliminate pension abuses. Measure Q suggests that some council members may want to change their minds on this issue. Vote No so they can’t use this sham election as an excuse!"
Other Modesto ballot measures
Modesto voters had a raft of ballot measures to consider in the November 8 election. They were:
- Measure N, Modesto Utility Users Tax
- Measure P, Modesto Extension of Sewer Service to the Rouse-Colorado Neighborhood (Advisory Vote)
- Measure R, Modesto Baseline Calculations for City Employee Retirement Benefits (Advisory Vote)
- Measure S, Modesto Increase in Age of Retirement Eligibility for City Employees (Advisory Vote)
Path to the ballot
The resolution to place Measures Q, R and S on the November 8, 2011 ballot was proposed by Modesto councilman and mayoral candidate Brad Hawn. The resolution was approved in July 2011 by a 4-3 vote of the Modesto City Council.
- Official Voter Guide for the Stanislaus County November 8, 2011 local ballot measures
- List of Stanislaus County November 8, 2011 local ballot measures