SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The city of San Diego might be able to lower its $1.36 billion deficit for retiree health thanks to a judge's ruling that the benefit was optional and not vested, the City Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The ruling by San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Prager came in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who wanted to end an $8,880 annual limit on city contributions to ex-employees' health care. The court case tested a section of the City Charter that says changes to retirement benefits must be approved by a vote of employees.
Prager noted that the charter says the city "may" offer health benefits to retirees at its discretion, so it was not subject to employee approval.
But since it was a term and condition of employment, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said San Diego officials are still obligated to bargain in good faith on retirement benefits.
"This decision brings an opportunity and a choice," Goldsmith said. "We can either continue litigating this issue for years through the appellate courts or we can resolve retiree health by coming together on a reasonable plan that will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. This court ruling offers an opportunity to get results."
Goldsmith said the retiree health benefit amounts to about one-quarter of the unfunded pension liability, and affects employees hired before 2005. The benefit was eliminated for those hired after 2005.
Increasing pension payments have put a squeeze on the general fund, which pays for many city services.
The city faced a $56.7 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, a gap Mayor Jerry Sanders opted to close, in part, by severely cutting hours at libraries and recreation centers.
A 10-year-old male lion on loan from the San Diego Zoo was killed at the Indianapolis Zoo by a female lion, zoo officials announced Friday.
A 65-year-old woman was seriously injured Friday when she fell while riding an electric scooter with family members in the Marina area of San Diego.
A light plane occupied by a flight instructor and a student pilot made a safe emergency landing Friday amid late-morning traffic on Interstate 8 in El Cajon.
Outdoor clothing giant Patagonia jumped into two competitive Senate races Friday, endorsing Democrats Jon Tester of Montana and Jacky Rosen of Nevada in what the company called its first foray into elective politics.
Declaring this midterm election year an "inflection point" in American history, Kamala Harris came Friday to South Carolina to tell Democrats that the way out of Donald Trump's America is through the ballot box.
California moved a step closer Friday to allowing marijuana deliveries in communities that have banned retail sales of the drug as regulators rebuffed cities and police chiefs who are opposed to the rule.
The numbers in Friday night's draw of the multi-state Mega Millions lottery are 15, 23, 53, 65, 70 and the Mega number is 7.
The ninth annual San Diego Green Homes Tour is taking place on Sunday, and it is your chance to visit 12 of the county's most eco-friendly homes.
An ex-con who allegedly killed the proprietor of an East Village flooring-materials store at the victim's downtown business during a robbery pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge that could lead to the death penalty if he's convicted.