Posts

Starting an Independent Fire Department

If your city contracts out to a state or county fire agency for services, you may want to consider the example of Calimesa, California. Facing rising costs to comply with minimum staffing rules, as well as ballooning costs for defined benefit pensions, in January 2018 the city formed their own independent fire department. The process […]

Resources for California’s Pension Reformers

Stampede: a mass movement of people at a common impulse. –  Merriam Webster dictionary The pension reform stampede is about to finally overrun California’s political status-quo for three reasons. (1) Pension debt is out of control. While official estimates are slightly lower, most reasonable estimates put California’s total unfunded liabilities for state and local pensions at […]

How to Restore Financial Sustainability to Public Pensions

Last month the League of California Cities released a “Retirement System Sustainability Study and Findings.” The findings were not surprising. “Key Findings” were (1) City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and […]

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Pleasanton reviews options for confronting unfunded pension liabilities

From PleasantonWeekly.com: There are many reasons the city of Pleasanton — along with scores of other public employers throughout California, including the Pleasanton Unified School District — are staring down higher retiree costs. The four primary causes, according to Bartel, are CalPERS investment losses during and after the recession, enhanced retirement benefits given to employees, […]

Did Your Agency Comply with the Law When Increasing Pension Formulas?

Since the millennium began, most city and county governments enacted retroactive pension benefit increases that more than doubled their pension costs with no end in sight. Cities and counties have been fighting back in court with some success. One legal challenge raised first against the County of Marin is based on California Government Code Section […]

Coping With the Pension Albatross

Instead of the cross, the albatross About my neck was hung. –  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798 In Coleridge’s famous poem, a sailor who killed an albatross has it hung around his neck as punishment. Since then, the albatross, which sailors used to consider good luck, has come to symbolize an oppressive […]

Marin County Discloses Debt Balances on Property Tax Bills

How would you like it if every time you received a property tax bill from your county assessor, you also received a notice that disclosed the amount of the county’s total debt, annual operating expenses, total unfunded liability for pensions, and total unfunded liability for retirement healthcare? You might not like it, but you’d have […]

How Fraudulently Low “Normal Contributions” Wreak Havoc on Civic Finances

Back in 2013 the City of Irvine had an unfunded pension liability of $91 million and cash reserves of $61 million. The unfunded pension liability was being paid off over 30 years with interest charged on the unpaid balance at a rate of 7.5% per year. Irvine’s cash reserves were conservatively invested and earned interest […]

Pension Reform – The San Jose Model

Pension reform in San Jose began in June 2012 when voters, by a margin of 69% to 31%, approved Measure B. Despite overwhelming support from voters, however, this vote triggered a cascade of union funded lawsuits which by 2015 had overturned several of the key provisions of the reform measure. Finally, in August 2015, the […]

Pension Reform – The San Diego Model

Beginning around 2009 it became clear to civic leaders and councilmembers that the City of San Diego faced serious financial challenges. A San Diego County Grand Jury in that year released a report that recommended the city file for bankruptcy. The report cited the underfunded City’s pension system as the primary underlying cause of their […]