CHICO  — The Chico Area Recreation and Park District is concerned about unfunded pensions, but its directors say it is in a better position than most public agencies.

During a 2018-19 budget discussion Wednesday, the directors of the special district talked about the future of pensions.

It has roughly $1.7 million set aside in its pension reserves, while its total pension liability – as of April – was about $2.4 million. That pension obligation changes regularly, noted CARD General Manager Ann Willmann.

Willmann told the board that $1.7 million is in reserves – but in “spendable, unassigned” cash. Nevertheless there are some options. While board members agreed they weren’t interested in touching that reserve, they did talk about the possibility of paying off fully or in part its CalPERS obligation.

That would get rid of a regular payment, along with interest charges, saving the recreation district money, Director Tom Lando noted.

Should CARD pay off part of its liability, it could lower its payments and lengthen the amortization period, Willmann noted.

Yet  Lando noted that he thought the reserve should be left is, in fear the state could change what happens with pensions – by discounting or changing liabilities – and that money would be lost to CARD.

Willmann has been involved in a number of state-level pension discussions, and regularly reports to the board on pension discussions, especially as it pertains to the financial disasters that unfunded pensions are causing public agencies and governments.

The CARD board has lamented not being able to set aside more for deferred maintenance and equipment repair, so there was a short discussion whether directors wanted to use reserve funds for that, but the board agreed with Lando not to touch it.

The public hearing on the preliminary budget is planned for 7 p.m. June 21 at the Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

 

A better position than most agencies? Well, that’s pretty subjective. Here’s what Ann Willmann told me just a year and a half ago after a presentation from their Mattson and Isom auditor:

 

AW

Ann Willmann
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Wed 12/21/2016, 8:20 AM