By Joni Kirk, Mill Creek Director of Communications and Marketing.
The Washington State Senate’s budget that moved forward on a partisan vote last week has a significant impact on the City of Mill Creek’s budget. At its March 28th meeting, the City Council encouraged its citizens to speak out against the state transferring its pension obligations to cities.
The Senate’s budget, SB 5048, as passed on March 23, 2017, would eliminate the state contribution rate for LEOFF 2, the pension plan for all full-time commissioned law enforcement officers and fire fighters.
Since the pension plan’s inception in 1977, contributions have been split three ways: the employee covers 50 percent; the employer covers 30 percent; and the state covers 20 percent.
The Senate’s budget moves the state’s responsibility to the cities, which would now be responsible to cover 50 percent of the pension contributions. If the Senate’s budget is passed by both legislative chambers, this new allocation would take effect July 1, 2017.
“We continue to carry more of the state’s financial burden as they eliminate funding and reduce revenues that historically have gone to cities. Fiscal responsibility doesn’t mean transferring financial obligations to others,” said City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto. “So we are asking the community to share their concerns with legislators now and require the state to honor its obligations.”
For just the second half of this year, such an adjustment would increase the City of Mill Creek’s cost from $55,793 to $93,344.
For the 2017-2018 biennium, the increased cost for the City to cover just full-time commissioned police officers is $116,019.
“To put this in perspective, this biennium increase averages out to about $5,273 per employee,” said Polizzotto. “It’s already a struggle to cover cost of living increases, but this is significantly more.”
The House’s proposed budget is set to be acted on early the week of April 3rd and it honors the longstanding commitment by the state to share funding of these costs.
We encourage our citizens to encourage our legislators to honor the obligation to fund retirement plans.
Legislators for the 44th Legislative District can be reached as follows: