LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A plan to limit the amount of taxpayer funds contributed toward health care for police and firefighter retirees moved forward in the City Council on Tuesday.

The ordinance, which passed on an 11-2 vote, caps the city’s maximum monthly contribution for LAPD and LAFD pension health care at $1,097 — a move that could save the city an estimated $68 million per year, according to a report by the city administrative officer.

The vote came amid ongoing closed-door talks between the city and unions representing police and firefighters. The city wants police officers and firefighters to contribute part of their salaries toward retirement health care.

Police and firefighters pay a portion of their salaries toward their pensions. They do not pay toward their retirement health care, which will be funded almost entirely by $146 million in city contributions this year plus investment returns on the city’s pension funds.

“We’re in a tough world at the moment, and I think this is an excellent way to move forward,” Councilman Bill Rosendahl said. “I’ve been saying since day one we have to reinvest in our own health care, in our own pensions if we want this city to provide services to its constituents.”

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said the ordinance would allow for an agreement between the parties if one is reached within the next 30 days.

“It is our intention to continue negotiating with the sworn bargaining units to reach a resolution as soon as possible,” said Santana, who is the city’s lead negotiator.

Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul Weber called the move rushed, but said he would review it with the league’s attorneys and figure out what the union’s options are.

“The public didn’t even have an opportunity to review it before (the council) took a vote,” Weber said. “They’re in such a hurry to get this done, something that’s going to have incredible impact on the people that protect the residents of Los Angeles.”

Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Richard Alarcon were the two opposing votes.

Hahn said she wants to see police and firefighters contribute to their retirement health care. “I just would rather see the parties negotiate this themselves rather than us doing it here today,” Hahn said.

The ordinance comes back to the council for a second vote in 30 days.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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