David Condon

Pension changes will help make Spokane stronger, smarter

David Condon, Mayor, No Phone Number Available

Monday, July 21, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.

The City of Spokane has taken another important step to strengthen City finances, stabilizing and strengthening the health of its pension plan and long-term finances.

The City is in the process of adopting changes to the City's pension plan (SERS) that are equitable to our employees and more affordable to the citizens of Spokane. The City and its labor unions have agreed to changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The changes require new financial investments from the City and its employees and changes retirement compensation calculations.

Learn more about the Spokane Employees' Retirement System at the SERS website

All parties recognized the importance of acting now. Driving better outcomes related to the City's retirement plan is important both for the future of our employees and our city. There are numerous examples across the country of cities and states in serious financial trouble driven largely by the undue burden of retirement plans that have not been updated to better align with today's realities.

We sat down with Local 270, Local 270-Prosecutors, M&P-A&B, and Local 29, and came up with a smarter solution. We believe the enhancements we are making in Spokane are equitable because both the employee and employer shoulder the responsibility.

The agreement increases the contribution rate from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent for all current and future members to better fund the system, and establishes a new tier for determining retirement compensation.

For employees hired after January 1, 2015 of the agreement:

  • Stretches the calculation from highest two-consecutive-year average for compensation to highest three years
  • Extends the minimum retirement eligibility calculation from age 50 with a minimum of 25 years of service – something referred to as the "Rule of 75" – to age 50 with a minimum of 30 years of service – now the "Rule of 80"
  • Moves vesting from five years to seven years
  • Advances the normal retirement age from 62 to 65

The enhancements make the City's pension plan much stronger over the long-term. Reforming our plan to better align with today's demands is the responsible thing to do.

The changes require an ordinance update that is before the City Council for consideration next week. They would take affect Sep. 1.

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