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Second reading of pension ordinance moved to March

By Staff | Jan 19, 2011

As anticipated, the City Council conducted the first reading of an ordinance amending the General Employees Retirement Plan during their special meeting on Tuesday. However, the planned second reading and adoption of the legislation, which had been scheduled to take place on Feb. 1, has been pushed back by one month.

City Manager Judie Zimomra read Ordinance 11-001, which was created as a result of negotiations between the City of Sanibel and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3228, which represents 67 city employees.

During negotiations, both parties agreed to several retirement plan elements, including vesting period, normal retirement age, grandfather for early retirement, opt-out of defined benefit plan to participate in defined contribution plan and new hires subject to all new plan provisions.

The council imposed changes to the pension plan include:

• Reducing the multiplier from 3 percent to 1.68 percent for future years of service.

• Maintaining the employee contribution at 5 percent.

• Reducing the cost of living provisions to provide for a 2 percent cost of living after five years of retirement.

• Modifying the early retirement provisions to provide for early retirement at age 60, and an adjustment for early retirement of 5 percent for each year of service under age 65.

In keeping with the city’s by-laws, no public comment was allowed during the first reading of an ordinance.

Following the reading of the ordinance, Vice Mayor Mick Denham — already excused from attending the council’s next session on Feb. 1 — suggested pushing back the date of the second reading and adoption of the plan to March 1. Denham told his fellow councilors that a matter this important to the city and its employees should be discussed with the entire council in attendance.

Peter Pappas made a motion to delay action on the ordinance until 9:15 a.m. on March 1, which was seconded by Mayor Kevin Ruane and approved unanimously, 4-0. Councilman Marty Harrity was absent on Tuesday.

In other business, Ruane read a proclamation recognizing the service to the community of former council member and four-term Vice Mayor Richard Walsh, who passed away on Sunday, Jan. 16.

“During councilman Walsh’s service on Sanibel City Council, the community was greatly enhanced with the adoption of significant environmental initiatives and land development modifications which will endure and protect the environment of Sanibel for generations to come,” said Ruane. “Dick Walsh’s life-long record of public service stands as a model for all who seek to serve their fellow citizens, their community and their country.”

Denham suggested that, as has been done for those who have served on City Council, a tree be planted in memory of Walsh.

“Dick was tenacious,” added Jim Jennings, who noted Walsh’s love for the island. “We became friends and I learned a lot from him.”

Also during the meeting, Zimomra read a status report updating the council on the Verizon Wireless telecommunications tower application.

A memorandum from Director of Planning Jimmy Jordan indicated that Verizon Wireless will submit modified plans to install a close mount antenna and is considering two “stealth” designs for the structure — either to resemble a pine tree or a flag pole — as an alternative to the monopole design.

Additionally, the company intends to submit documentation to demonstrate all proposed telecommunication equipment will fully comply with the radiation frequency exposure guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission. It is also looking into lowering the height requirement to 125 feet, rather than the proposed 149 feet.

The city’s Department of Public Works is investigating other feasible onsite locations at the Donax Wastewater Treatment Facility, which will be presented to council next month.