The Comprehensive Annual Finance Report shows that the city’s only major debt is pensions and benefits, and despite increasing payments siphoned from city funds, it’s still going up astronomically

21 Nov

From the Governmental Accounting Standards Board:

What is OPEB? Other Postemployment Benefits (or OPEB) are benefits (other than pensions) that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include life insurance, disability, legal and other services.”

Wow, the Gravy Train just keeps rolling. But who feeds the horses and picks up all the shit? That would be you, The Taxpayer. Like the pensions, the post-employment benefits are only partially paid, through unrealistic “contributions” from the city and the employee. This leaves the same type of deficit that is racking up on the pensions.

So how much does the city owe toward benefits given to retired employees? It’s hard to find that information, you have to know what to search. There are book keeping tricks to keep you from finding out. “Some liabilities are not due and payable in the current period and therefore are not reported in the funds.

Dave Howell tipped me to the “Comprehensive Annual Finance Report” required of the city of Chico. Thanks Dave!

Here’s how I read these reports – I use the F-search to find “OPEB” and “Other Postemployment Benefits.” Next I’ll punch in “deficit” and “unfunded actuarial liability“, or UAL. You find more damning information with every search.

Governmental activities” means payroll. “Deferred outcome” means money owed on the deficit, that hasn’t been paid yet. “

Deferred Outflows of Resources. This classification balance, although similar to “assets,” is set apart because these
items do not meet the technical definition of being a City asset on the date of these financial statements. In other
words, these amounts are not available to pay liabilities in the way assets are available. When all the recognition
criteria are met, the deferred outflow of resources will become an expense

These amounts are not available to pay liabilities – meaning, the costs generally associated with running a city, like street or sewer or park maintenance. The pensions and postemployment benefits are eating the budget. It’s like watching Lowell George go after a pizza.

The report details how our employee expenses keep increasing. Employee expenses include not only their salary and benefits, but the interest on the deficit. The city makes annual payments toward the deficit, to which the employees contribute NOTHING. On page 8 of the report, you see that these payments just keep going up. “The City has reported deferred outflows of resources for pension contributions and differences between actual and estimated earnings of pension plan investments totaling $16,571,533 and deferred outflows for contributions of $135,463 for OPEB for governmental activities at June 30, 2020.”

That’s odd because finance director Scott Dowell only reported a $11.5 million payment toward the UAL. And he rarely talks about the OPEB payments. And then there’s the interest owed on both. It’s just rabbit math.

I’m on vacation right now, and the rest of the family wants to go have some fun. So I’ll leave you with this – it’s like eating shit, you have to take a few bites, digest, walk away from the table and barf…

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