For the second time this month, Orange County supervisors have delayed approving a labor contract for county executives and managers that would extend bonuses in exchange for higher contributions to pensions by employees.

There is a growing sense among supervisors that the county has not pushed for enough concessions from the management and executive ranks.

“It’s a mistake to adopt this contract. It’s a bad idea,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson in a Voice of OC story earlier this week.

Without discussion Tuesday, supervisors delayed action on the contract until the board’s July 19 meeting.

There is heightened attention on the managers’ contract because it is the first labor since the economy worsened and pension obligations increased. Observers say next year’s negotiations with the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and the Orange County Employees Association will be tough as supervisors seek more concessions on wages and pensions.

Supervisor John Moorlach joined Nelson in his concern about the labor contract, telling readers of his email blast, “The Moorlach Update,” that he wants pensions rolled back.

“Neither Supervisor Nelson nor myself are happy with the negotiated contract, as we believe that it does not go far enough in the areas that we have both staked a position,” Moorlach wrote.

“Supervisor Nelson is focused on total compensation — salary, pension, medical, et al. I’m focused on a true rollback of pension formulas back to pre-2001 for deputies and pre-August 2004 for the bargaining units that garnered 2.7% @ 55.”

During Tuesday’s budget adoption, Moorlach took aim  at public safety employees, saying that their pensions are eating into government’s ability to provide services.

Her said that all departments have absorbed another 5 percent cut to operations this and next fiscal year. “To all the nonsafety department heads, I want to say thank you.”

But, he added, “my frustration is that of the $30 million you set aside, $20 million goes to public safety,” largely to pay for the pension increases of the last decade.

“If we could roll back, truly roll back, on pensions, we might have some relief,” he concluded.


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