SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Backers of a proposed amendment to the San Diego City Charter that would give new hires 401(k) savings accounts, rather than pensions, gathered enough voter signatures to qualify for public vote next year, the City Clerk's Office announced Tuesday.
Under the proposal, all new city hires -- except for police -- would get tax-deferred savings accounts instead of pensions, and those now paying into the pension system would have their wages frozen for five years for the purpose of calculating retirement benefits. Employees could still get raises and bonuses.
"Now this issue is in the hands of the voters, where it should be," City Councilman Carl DeMaio said.
DeMaio was among those who helped gather valid voter signatures. At least 94,000 were needed to qualify the measure.
About 145,000 voter signatures were turned in. A sampling of 3 percent found most to be valid, according to the registrar's office.
If the sample is good, supporters of the idea will have turned in about 116,000 valid voter signatures,Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler said.
Mayor Jerry Sanders is one of the chief backers of the idea.
"I've been in San Diego for more than 40 years and I can't think of a ballot initiative more critical to our city's future than this one," he said. "Hopefully, the voter will embrace it and approve it."
DeMaio said the change would result in the "most sweeping financial reform the city has ever enacted."
Municipal unions oppose the idea, because of market risks that could erode their savings.
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