Pacific Grove Retirement Benefits for City Employees, Measure R (November 2010)

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A Pacific Grove Retirement Benefits for City Employees, Measure R ballot question was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in Pacific Grove in Monterey County.[1] It was overwhelmingly approved. However, this measure was ruled unconstitutional by the Monterey County superior court in May of 2013.[2].

Measure R amended Pacific Grove's city charter to conform to an ordinance limiting the ability of the City Council to pay into employee retirement.

The Pacific Grove city council voted on July 21, 2010 by 6-1 to enact the "Sustainable Retirement Benefit Reform Initiative", whose supporters had collected signatures to place that measure on the ballot. Under California law, cities can simply enact such initiated measures rather than place them on the ballot, and that is what the Pacific Grove city council chose to do in July 2010.[3]

The "Sustainable Retirement Benefit Reform Initiative", enacted as an ordinance, caps city contributions to employee pension benefits at 10% of workers' salaries. Employees were required, under Measure R, to pay additional amounts toward their retirement themselves.

Pacific Grove's police union subsequently filed a complaint with the state's Public Employment Relations Board saying that by enacting the ordinance the city had acted illegally because the city was not allowed under the state's labor laws to act to limit the city's contribution to police pensions.

A simple majority vote was required for approval.

Election results

Measure R
Approveda Yes 4,390 73.63%
These final, certified results are from Monterey County elections office

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure R: "Shall the Pacific Grove City Charter be amended to conform to the "Voter Initiative Limiting the Ability of the City of Pacific Grove to Approve or Modify Agreements That Provide Retirement Benefits to City Employees," provide City officers/employees do not hold rights to future employment or future employment benefits, and amend the Pacific Grove Municipal Code to clarify that voter-approved limits relating to long-term City debt or financial liabilities apply only to retirement plans or agreements?"[4]

Court Cases

On May 17th, Judge Thomas Wills, a judge in the Monterey County superior court ruled that Measure R, which approves an ordinance capping city contributions to employee pension benefits at 10% of workers' salaries, thus requiring employees to pay additional amounts toward their retirement themselves, was in conflict with the state constitution. Judge Wills expressed the position that pensions and benefits promised when an employee was hired are "vested rights" and cannot be reduced.[2][2]

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