While our town struggles with financial insolvency and sagging infrastructure, the staffers responsible skip off to another town, at a higher salary, with their pensions intact

3 Dec

A few points I’d like to make clear about POBs:

  1. amount to millions in new debt, with interest
  2. success dependent on the stock market, just like CalPERS investments
  3. don’t need voter approval but the voters/taxpayers will be on the hook for the payment
  4. POBs are guaranteed – that means, the payments come out of the General Fund at the expense of infrastructure and services
  5. without true pension reform POBs will lead to insolvency and bankruptcy – as was the case in Stockton and San Bernardino

Here’s a shocking article about San Bernardino, 

San Bernardino deficits grow after bankruptcy

What I get from this article, is that the police unions are the biggest threat to financial solvency facing California cities. They demand higher salaries and refuse to pay a sustainable share of their pensions costs. Instead of asking for concessions from the highest paid public employees in the state, “Stockton said from the outset pensions are necessary to be competitive in the job market, particularly for police.”  Vallejo backed down from pension reform after being threatened by CalPERS. 

Chico City Council has done same. When I asked my district rep Kasey Reynolds why such a high salary for the new police chief (higher than the departing chief), she responded, “ I just looked at other communities that are like size and their Chiefs are 20-40k higher.”  I sent her the publicpay.gov records for Chico and Sacramento – yeah, Sacramento salaries are a little higher, but city of Chico pays more of the pensions. If we are going to continue to offer these crazy salaries, Chico cops need to pay more toward their pensions. I never got any response from Reynolds.  They hired the chief above the old salary and just recently approved a new contract for CPOA without asking any concessions. 

So, letter writer Steve Wolfe is correct – our elected officials are complicit with our city employees in driving our town into the financial abyss. He’s right again when he predicts the city will pursue a new revenue scheme.  A POB would be just the vehicle to take us down! Here’s my response. 

Steve Wolfe is right – the city is seeking a new revenue measure. At the Finance Committee meeting September 23, a consultant was asked to pitch Pension Obligation Bonds to the full Chico City council. Staff said the bond could be implemented as early as January 2021 because POBs don’t require voter approval. 

POBs are a way of borrowing money to pay bills, while hoping to re-invest the borrowed money, producing a profit used not only to service the bond but to pay off the pension liability. If this outright gamble doesn’t work out, the taxpayers are on the hook not only for the unfunded pension liability, but the additional bond debt. POBs put Stockton and San Bernardino into bankruptcy.

This bond will not appear on your property taxes, it appears in the form of sagging infrastructure and service cuts – these bonds are guaranteed, bond holders take priority over our streets, our parks, our sewers and even public safety needs. 

Instead of taking on new debt, we must reduce the long-term cost of public pensions for future employees. That’s not happening.  With emergency powers, the city manager hired three new positions this year at $100,000+ salaries. New hires are paid more than predecessors.  There’s no accountability for these decisions.  While our town struggles with financial insolvency and sagging infrastructure, the staffers responsible skip off to another town, at a higher salary, with their pensions intact. 

Contact your new, “fiscally conservative” council super majority, and tell them what you think. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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