Pensions, waste hauling on council agenda

Chico >> A pension liability discussion and the waste hauling franchise agreement will come to the City Council Tuesday.

Retirement plan contribution rates will dramatically increase over the next few years, putting further pressure on Chico’s general fund, which pays for public safety, parks and roads.

The annual amount the city is expected to contribute to the California Public Employees Retirement System is projected to increase by $3.2 million in just five years.

Councilor Randall Stone called it a time bomb.

Vice Mayor Reanette Fillmer brought up the topic for further discussion. She’s interested in exploring other options for new employees and seeing what other cities are doing to tackle the issue.

“It’s about reducing cost and long-term liability and getting the city into a better financial state,” she said.

If the city doesn’t plan for this, it could have huge consequences in the future, according to Administrative Services Director Scott Dowell. In the worst-case scenario, the City Council could face tough decisions like whether to borrow money, reduce staffing levels or cut services in order to keep the budget balanced, he said.

When it comes to trash, the city has already approved a franchise waste collection agreement, which means residents will not have a choice of hauler come this fall.

The next step is for the council to approve the collectors in the agreement, Recology and Waste Management.

Citizens have argued the agreement eliminates free market choice and will drastically increase monthly bills. The city will bring in about $800,000 to the general fund annually from the roughly 12-year contract.

The vote in favor of the garbage contract was 5-2, with councilors Karl Ory and Mark Sorensen against.

Other topics

Leo DePaola could be the city’s new community development director and Brendan Vieg the deputy director. Their salaries are proposed as $132,730 and $120,470 annually.

City Manager Mark Orme has made the appointments, now the City Council just has to approve them.

DePaola would be filling the shoes of Mark Wolfe, who departed from the position in May after 10 years working for the city.

Orme called DePaola a “dynamic professional” and said his experience in the private and public sectors will help the department be efficient and effective.


“I believe that Leo has the qualities and the skillsets to do extremely well in being that lead in the community development department,” he said. “I believe he’s going to be outstanding in this position.”

Contact reporter Ashiah Scharaga at 896-7768.

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