San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 04/15/14, 10:08 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The citizen committee studying possible changes to the city charter picked the issues Tuesday to review by May 19 so they can potentially be on November’s ballot, including the controversial Section 186 and timing of elections.

Since Mayor Carey Davis first proposed forming the committee, many in the public have pushed for or against repeal of Section 186, which sets police and firefighter pay, but committee members themselves avoided direct discussion.

That ended at the committee’s second meeting Tuesday, when committee members divided suggested reforms into a separate “now bucket” to study by their May 19 deadline and “later bucket” for longer-term review after that.

“It’s no longer the elephant in the room,” committee member Dennis Baxter said. “186, this has hamstrung our city.”

The section sets public safety salaries based on the average of 10 like-sized cities, which opponents say requires the bankrupt city to pay the same as much-wealthier communities but supporters say ensures quality employees work for this city.

To help decide the issue, committee member Tom Pierce asked for information including how much public safety salaries and other employees’ salaries have gone up each year since 186 was implemented and whether the cities San Bernardino looks at to determine an average salary also set pay with a similar system.

“I want to know more about the ins and outs of exactly how Section 186 has affected the city’s budgetary position,” Pierce said. “I don’t know for sure that that conversation can be completed before May 18. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t, but it’s certainly a key budgetary issue and we certainly have budgetary issues in our city.”

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