While the country’s cities and states are cutting employment benefits, Berkeley City Council members will decide Tuesday whether to set aside taxpayer dollars for city workers to get sex-change operations.
The vote, expected this evening, would permit the city to dole out $20,000 in cash stipends from its general budget to pay for the surgeries – even as a city auditor warns of ballooning employee benefits costs.
It would establish the Sex Reassignment Fund, a discretionary fund, in which individuals could get as much as $15,000 before their sex-change surgery and $5,000 post-surgery. The money will be available for city employees on a first-come, first-served basis to pay for one-time expenses.
A new City Manager's report states that the city has unfunded liabilities — including pension funds, workers' compensation and vacation payouts — totaling as much as $252 million. City auditor Anne Marie Hogan, who authored the report, cautioned that employee benefits for the city’s 1,500 workers represent a rapidly increasing cost to Berkeley and that measures must immediately be taken to lower these expenditures.