SDCTA releases Update to Phase I Pension Study: Progress and Opportunities for CalPERS Contracted Cities to Save Taxpayer Dollars

Through our review, SDCTA found several interesting trends and unique occurrences in the pension benefits (and their associated costs) among the region's cities that contract with CalPERS. For more information on any one item, please review the pages associated with the item. - The landscape of pension benefits has changed significantly since the release of our first report. o Five cities in the region have established a second, lower retirement formula for new employees: Carlsbad, El Cajon, La Mesa, National City, and Solana Beach. Prior to the release of SDCTA's October report, no city had a second tier for new hires. (page 13) o Ten cities in the region have reduced or eliminated the amount of pension costs they had picked up on behalf of employees. (page 23) - From FY 1999 - FY 2009, SDCTA examined each city's total pension costs as a ratio to its General Fund. The only city to make the list of the top five highest ratios each year was Chula Vista. However, they were never the highest. Several cities in the region are "repeat offenders", meaning they have made the list more than once in the past 11 years: (page 29) 1. Chula Vista (11 reoccurrences) 2. National City (10 reoccurrences) 3. Escondido (9 reoccurrences) 4. La Mesa (7 reoccurrences) 5. El Cajon (7 reoccurrences) 6. Oceanside (6 reoccurrences) 7. Vista (2 reoccurrences) - Over the past five years, 14 of the 17 cities reviewed have experienced pension cost growth rates that have far exceeded their growth rates in General Fund revenue. (page 28) - Based upon the years reviewed, San Marcos has had the highest pension cost growth of any CalPERS-contracted city in the region. (page 28) - SDCTA found that in addition to CalPERS pension benefits offered to public employees, cities sometimes offer supplementary benefits (such as defined contribution plans) that can increase the annual payout employees receive upon retirement.

Download the report here.

Rosey Williams