San Francisco supervisors likely to kill police retirement deal 

A “double dipping” pilot program intended to stem the tide of retiring police officers without costing The City more appears headed for elimination.

Despite warnings from the Police Officers Association of a “looming Armageddon,” members of the Board of Supervisors are poised to vote Tuesday not to continue the Deferred Retirement Option Program.

Voters approved the program with the passage of Proposition B in February 2008. At the time, the program was supposed to be cost neutral. But an analysis by the city controller showed it is increasing city costs.

The City Controller’s Office said that if the program continues it will cost The City about $6 million a year in increased pension costs. The program is not prompting officers to stick around longer. They are retiring earlier to join the program, according to the analysis.

Under the program, officers reaching retirement age can continue to work while earning a salary, but will also collect a pension paid out in a lump sum after they ultimately retire after one to three years in the program.

Carmen Chu, chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, said if the program is extended “we’re moving in the opposite direction of what we’re saying we want to do with pension reform.”

POA President Gary Delagnes said there is a “looming Armageddon that we will see from a sheer numbers standpoint if in fact the DROP is discontinued.” Delagnes said that 600 officers are going to leave the department within the next three years, and DROP could help  “buy us more time to get back to a normal economy.”

But others said the department’s staffing problem is a challenge with or without DROP.

“We’re going to have a major retirement and staffing level problem whatever we do in terms of DROP,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said. He said he would like to figure out how to fund police academy classes next fiscal year, as the Board of Supervisors reviews Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed city budget for next fiscal year, in order to help with the staffing challenge.

The board’s budget committee sent the decision of whether to extend DROP to the full board for a vote on Tuesday.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

By the numbers

190 Officers currently enrolled in DROP who will retire within three years

204 Officers not yet enrolled but are eligible to do so

$6M Projected annual cost increase for retirement benefits

June 30 Date of program termination, unless board extends it

Source: San Francisco Employee Retirement System

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