Compensation and Benefits

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The District has designed its compensation to attract and retain high-performing, highly qualified employees while protecting the financial interests of the District and its ratepayers.

In accordance with State law the District sets wages and benefits for most of its workforce after negotiating and reaching agreement on multi-year Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with its four bargaining units:

The District's General Manager and Senior Managers are not represented by a bargaining unit and are considered at-will employees who have individual Personal Service Agreements (PSAs) approved by the Board of Directors.

The documents below describe current benefits:

Compensation Based On Bay Area Benchmarks

Like many public and private sector employers, the District uses data from compensation surveys to set fair and competitive salaries. Under current labor agreements, District compensation (including employer contributions to retirement plans) is set at the 60th percentile of the median for similar positions. Senior and General Manager compensation is set at the median for similar positions at comparable agencies. The District surveys specific job classifications at nine comparable public agencies in the Bay Area.1

Retaining skilled employees saves the cost of recruiting and training new staff. On average, it costs 15 percent of an employee's base salary to fill a position and another 13 percent to train a new employee. Currently, average tenure for District employees is 10 years.

By District policy, a new employee starts at the minimum (A-step) salary of the job classification. The General Manager must approve exceptions. An employee can earn merit “step” increases of five percent until reaching the highest salary (E-step) for the position. Step increases are not automatic; they are based on merit as established by record of the employee’s job performance and require recommendation of the department head and approval by the General Manager. Baseline salaries are adjusted for cost-of-living increases yearly by the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index (All Urban Wage Earners, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Area).

DSRSD reports information on salaries and other compensation annually to the State Controller’s Office. Visit Financial Information

Cities of Pleasanton and Livermore; Alameda County Water District; Central Contra Costa Sanitary District; Contra Costa Water District; Delta Diablo Sanitation District; East Bay Municipal Utility District; Oro Loma Sanitary District; and Union Sanitary District.

District and Employees Share Cost Of Medical Benefits

Current labor agreements cap the amount that the District contributes toward medical plan premiums and employees pay the difference. The District’s annual maximum contribution is based on the cost of a baseline plan plus 60 percent of premium increases since 2007. The District contracts with California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) for medical insurance. Employees choose from a variety of plans with Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO).

The District further reduces benefits costs through its Share the Savings program. Eligible employees who are covered by a family member’s non-PERS medical plan can waive the District’s coverage in exchange for a cash payment that is less than what the District would pay in premiums. In 2017, 24 percent of employees are participating, saving the District an estimated $317,000.

Like most large employers, the District also provides an employee assistance program (EAP) and insurance for workers compensation, dental and vision care, disability, accidental death and dismemberment, and basic term life.

Employees Share Cost of Retirement Benefits

The District contracts with the CalPERS to provide a defined benefit pension. In compliance with the legal requirements of the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2012 (PEPRA), the District maintains two plans. One plan is for “classic members,” defined by PEPRA as District employees active as of December 31, 2012, all former employees of the District, and new hires who were members of a reciprocal public pension plan as of December 31, 2012 and who were last employed by a public agency and covered by a reciprocal plan within six months of beginning employment with the District. The second plan is for “new members,” defined by PEPRA as either individuals who were not members of a reciprocal public pension plan on or before December 31, 2012, or individuals who have had a break in service of more than six months prior to beginning employment with the District. 

Plan 1:  Classic Members

2.7% at 55
Employee contribution (as percentage of salary)
Pensionable compensation cap
*$270,000 for 2017
Earliest age of retirement
Final average compensation period
12 months
Option 2W pre-retirement death benefits
Cost of living adjustment
Up to 2%


Plan 2:  New Members

2% at 62
Employee contribution (as percentage of salary)
**50% of the normal cost (6.25% for 7/1/16–6/30/17)
Pensionable compensation cap
*$118,775 for 2017
Earliest age of retirement
Final average compensation period
36 months
Option 2W pre-retirement death benefits
Cost of living adjustment
Up to 2%
† Applies to employees who became CalPERS members after January 1, 1996.
* Maximum deferral limits released by the Social Security Administration.

** Contribution amounts for Calendar Year 2016 determined by CalPERS.

Spiking—the practice of counting unused vacation and other benefits to inflate an employee’s final compensation and thereby increase retirement payments—is not allowed. Employees may use accrued unused sick leave toward service credit, according to the District’s current contract with CalPERS. Employees may not "cash out" sick leave upon retirement.

DSRSD has taken steps to control retiree health care costs through a vesting program that began in 2004. Under that program, a retiree only receives a full District contribution for a medical plan after earning 20 years of PERS service credit. Vested retirees with 10 or more years of PERS service, but less than 20 years, would receive a percentage of the full contribution for a medical plan (50 to 95 percent).

Limited Matching for Deferred Compensation

Employees may contribute a portion of their salaries to a tax-deferred 457 plan (similar to a 401K plan). The District offers limited matching for most employees, based on the terms of negotiated labor contracts. In FY 2016, deferred compensation matches will cost the District an estimated two percent of base salaries.

Incentive Program Discontinued

Like many business and government employers, the District has used incentive-based compensation to encourage superior performance. The program ended in 2011. Over the life of the program, 86 percent of funds from budgetary surpluses were used to maintain or reduce customer rates and 14 percent to reward employees for superior performance.

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