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Hollywood Voters To Decide City’s Pension Reform

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HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – Hollywood voters will go to the polls September 13th to decide whether to pass a referendum that will reform police, firefighter and city employee’s pensions.

Hundreds of residents and union members turned out in Hollywood Monday night as the Council of Civic Associations hosted a forum on the referendum.

Interim city Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark explained what will happen if the referendum passes.

“Over 75 percent of our expenses are related to personnel,” she said.

In the city’s quarterly newsletter sent to voters, leaders say passing the referendum could save more than $8.5 million dollars.

The city is looking at a $38 million dollar budget gap.  The city commission is trying to reign in costs through pension cuts.

“It seems penny wise and pound foolish,” one resident told the interim city manager.

“We are being made the scapegoats,” added a firefighter.

If the referendum fails, leaders say they will have to cut more than 150 jobs.

When the unions and city failed to reach a deal to trim pension benefits last month, the commission decided to take it to the voters.

The unions say the city isn’t telling the whole story.

“This is the result of mismanagement,” said Police Union President Jeff Marano. “That’s why we are in the hole.”

Fire Union president Dan Martinez agreed.

“We realize our pensions need reform and we were working with the city and they stopped,” said Martinez.

Marano said he doubts the referendum will pass.

If it does and there are layoffs, Marano says the unions will hold a massive job fair.

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