Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/28/2012 04:24:46 PM PDT
Updated: 10/29/2012 11:19:57 PM PDT

UPLAND – Employee pensions have become a highly contested issue as city leaders continue to look for ways to cut their costs.

Candidates running for City Council and mayor next week may be faced with the issue once elected.

The City Council in May asked employee groups to pay their portion of their pensions, but no agreements were reached.

However, department heads and the city manager agreed to pay.

The candidates were recently asked to weigh in on the subject.

Sheri Haendiges, a longtime volunteer running for City Council, said Upland police officers are paid less than in surrounding cities. She said they proposed to pay their pensions as part of their most recent negotiations, but the City Council rejected the offer.

She added that contracting with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department would be like putting a Band-Aid on a wound that requires stitches.

“The response time would be greatly reduced, and approximately two years into that contract, the city would have reached the same level of pay we are currently paying our own officers,” she said. “It’s up to your elected officials in the city management to dig in their heels and make it work without outsourcing services.”

Bill Velto, a planning commissioner and real estate broker running for City Council, made the answer to the question seem obvious.

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