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Atascadero trims pensions down a tier 

Anyone seeking a sweet city job with top benefits had better submit an application and hope for a thumbs up from Atascadero managers before July 12.

Employees hired after that date won’t have access to the current pension plan. Instead, they’ll belong to a “second-tier” with reduced retirement benefits.

Current employees won’t be affected. Sworn safety officers will still be able to retire at age 50 and receive an annual payout that’s equal to the number of years they served the city, multiplied by 3 percent of their highest salary. The formula is commonly called “3 percent at 50.” The formula for current non-safety personnel is 2.5 percent at 55.

In the new tier, sworn safety officers will receive 3 percent at 55. Miscellaneous employees will receive 2 percent at 55. For both groups, payout will be based on an average of their last three years in service.

Similar two-tier systems were recently adopted at the county level and in the city of San Luis Obispo, but it took several weeks of often intense debate for those governments to reach an agreement with public employee unions. In Atascadero, the resolution passed May 8 with zero objections from the public and only one question from a council member.

“Bottom line, this is going to save us money. Correct?” Councilman Brian Sturtevant asked.

He got an affirmative, and without further adieu, the council voted unanimously to give Mayor Bob Kelley the power to amend the city’s contract with California Public Employees Retirement System and create the second tier for new hires.

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