NBC Bay Area
San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved a plan for pension reform. But officials are warning of a possible loss to public safety. The police chief said for the first time ever, more officers are expected to resign than retire. NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro reports.
Days after a pension reform measure overwhelmingly passed in San Jose, the talk around town was that city employees were planning to, or had already, quit.
San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore on Friday said Measure B -- the measure to curb city pension benefits -- can't be directly attributed to the number of resignations on his desk. But he said that the fear of that measure passing, which it did Tuesday night with a nearly 70 percent approval rate, is strongly linked to the growing number of officers leaving San Jose, mostly for other Bay Area departments.
"The resignations are outpacing the number of retirements," Moore said, adding that the trend is new for the city.
In 2005, the police department had 12 resignations, Moore said. Last year, there were 50.
So far this year, Moore has 17 resignation letters on his desk. Moore is trying to recruit new officers to fill the ranks.
The fire department has heard there could be a similar trend in its department.
"The fire chief has heard there are firefighters thinking of applying for other departments," San Jose Fire Department spokeswoman Mary Gutierrez said. "None of that has come through so far in our paperwork at this time. These are just things that he's heard."
Among some of the changes that city employees will have to face under Measure B:
Current employees can keep pension credits but must pay up to 16 percent more of their salary to continue that benefit or choose a more modest and affordable plan for their remaining years on the job.
Retirement benefits will be limited for future hires by requiring them to pay half the cost of a pension.
"Bonus" pension checks will be discontinued to retirees. Voter approval will be required for future pension increases.
Measure B is now being litigated in the courts, with unions trying to overturn the measure, the city saying it has the right to amend employee benefits.
To see a report on the union fighting Measure B in court, watch the video below.
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