In 1939, California passed a law allowing local agencies to join the state retirement system, SERS. At the time that section 181-A was added (setting a minimum police wage), and section 181 was amended (changing the maximum number of police officers), the City was not a member of any retirement system.

    That changed in 1945, when the City joined SERS (which would become CalPERS in 1992).  At the time, municipal employees were not eligible and exempt from Social Security.

    The City (and not coincidentally, the County of San Bernardino) held elections on Charter Amendments to offer retirement plans to their employees.

    The measure was popular; the Sun endorsed it, the Mayor and the Council unanimously endorsed it.  The Council issued a statement that “we feel we are doing so in the interest of good government.” San Bernardino Sun, May 12, 1944, Page 11.

    A special municipal election for the charter election was consolidated with the statewide and County primary.

    The question:

    3. Shall proposed Charter Amendment No. One, adding a new section to the Charter of the City of San Bernardino, entitled Section 234, divided into three parts, entitled (a), (b) and (c), and providing that the Mayor and Common Council shall contract and provide for the participation of the City and City employees under the State Retirement System Act, with full credit for prior service rendered; providing for the termination of any such contract only by ordinance adopted by a majority vote of the electorate; providing for the levying of taxes to meet the obligation of the City to the State Employees Retirement System, and further providing that the limitations of the City Charter with respect to the levy and collection of taxes shall not apply to any such taxes so levied, be ratified?

    Proposition No. 3 unofficial vote:


    Yes 8,111 80.89%
    No 1,916 19.11%
    Total 10,027 100%


    After the election, the employees had to vote on joining SERS, which they approved in 1945.  The annotated Charter (operative 2006) claims that the section was amended on March 19, 1945, but it was not.