Under the state's new budget repair bill , police officers and firefighters - unlike most public employees - do not have to kick in toward their pension and health costs.
But under a new three-year contract retroactive to Jan. 1, members of Bayside's police union have agreed to start paying a portion of their pension costs and health care.
Village Manager Andy Pederson said the move is an example of village management and employees working together to help ease the pain of an estimated $62,000 net loss in state aid under Gov. Scott Walker's proposed two-year budget.
The budget repair bill, which has been signed into law but is pending in the courts, calls for pension and health insurance contributions from state employees, with an exemption for police officers and firefighters.
Ranking officers, like police chiefs, captains and lieutenants, are not exempt from those contributions. Officials in those posts are required to contribute 5.8 percent to their pensions and 12.6 percent to their health insurance.
Pederson said that as part of a new contract, non-ranking officers will contribute 1.5 percent toward their pension, a contribution that represents about one-fourth of the 5.8 percent that other public employees are paying. That will increase to a 50 percent contribution in the second year and 75 percent in the third year of the deal.
The officers also will contribute toward the cost of their health insurance: 10 percent in 2011, 11 percent in 2012, and 12 percent in 2013.
"I think with the police department, with those unions coming and making that stride, that helped us out tremendously trying to share the sacrifice and bring all of the pieces together," Pederson said.
While uniformed officers are exempt from the budget repair bill, police dispatchers, just like ranking officers, are not.
However, officer Jennifer Mioduszewski, a union steward, said it's not fair that for some members of the department to have to contribute to health care and pension costs while others don't. That's why the union stepped up, she said.
"Why should we be treated differently than our dispatchers are treated financially? Because they’re doing a job that’s so important to us. What they pay in, we pay in," she said.
While the contributions will help the village address the projected loss of state aid, it's still only part of the equation.
Bayside also has to take another $38,000 slash to the budget because of the loss of state funding for its recycling program.
How are they planning to recoup drop in revenue? Pederson said the village will have to be creative.
One long-term cost savings that the Village Board has been considering is a consolidation of the which could save an estimated $4 million over the next 10 years. The consolidation would include Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, River Hills, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay and Glendale. The same seven communities are members of the North Shore Fire Department.
"We’ve shown that this can save a lot of money over a 10-year period, but does this legislation restrict our ability to do that? Does it make it more difficult?" Pederson asked.
The North Shore has a long history of consolidated services, from the library to the fire department to the health department. But Pederson said there is nothing in Walker's budget to reward communities that already have taken steps toward responsible budgeting and consolidation.
"I’ve really struggled with that because you talk about trying to run a responsible government, the fact that we’ve been doing that and trying to make the changes," Pederson said. "That’s where the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everybody, and so it’s easy to say that you’re going to cut something, but when you cut something it has an impact on people.
"If the state provided an incentive for governments to further consolidate, further look at service consolidation, you may see more of the goal they’re trying to achieve on the local level," he said. "A lot of small things add up."