Police and firefighters in Hermosa Beach filed a lawsuit against the city Tuesday in hopes of putting a halt to changes in the city's retirement benefits for workers.
Unions representing both the police and fire departments are suing the city to prevent it from altering its pension plan, which will affect future public safety personnel.
The City Council voted unanimously last month to change its plan, seeking to decrease the city's contribution to the CalPERS pension program for new employees. Current public safety workers will retain their existing retirement benefits.
"The lawsuit is about getting back on track with the correct process," wrote the firefighters association's president Aaron Bush in a statement to Patch.
"The City chose to disregard the legal rights we have to 'meet and confer' and negotiate over salary and benefits," he wrote. "We hope the city realizes it made a mistake and will reconsider their approach on this matter."
For new hires at the police department, the new plan would reduce the city's portion of pension payments from 47.5 percent to 13.4 percent. For fire department hires, the reduction goes from 37.9 percent to 13.4 percent.
The pension plan has been on most of this summer's City Council meeting agendas. Mayor Michael DiVirgilio claimed that those against the plan never expressed concern.
"It's really disappointing," he said.
Implementation for the new pension plan was scheduled to begin around Nov. 1, according to city manager Stephen Burrell. Now both public safety associations and the city could be going to court.
"It's about the money," said Councilman Patrick "Kit" Bobko.
The new plan to cut back on pension contributions was designed to save budget dollars, according to Bobko. He now finds it frustrating that an attempt to save the city money will cost in the form of paying lawyers.
"We truly understand the bad economic climate," Bush wrote. "We are not suing for money."
But the manner in which this request to negotiate was made will still cost, according to the City Council.
"When the city tries to save the money, the union stands up, and costs us money to fight it," Bobko said, before adding that the dollars spent to fight this lawsuit will likely come from taxpayer pockets.
"This isn't a lawsuit against the city," he said. "It's a lawsuit against all of you."
Bush expressed that this legal process is not enjoyable.
"We are not happy that this is happening," Bush wrote to Patch. "I don't ever wish to fight with the City, and I am always expecting to work together to come up with a solution."
As more information is released about the lawsuit against Hermosa Beach, Patch will report it.