Tag Archives: unfunded pension liabilities

Letter: Here’s why CARD wants more money

7 Apr

Here’s a letter I sent to the Enterprise Record a full week ago. I don’t know why it took so long for Little to run my letter – I could speculate that he wants the CARD tax to pass. We’ll see when he endorses it in 2014.

My family received the Chico Area Recreation District’s survey regarding their proposed tax hike. We wanted more information, so asked for their 2012-13 budget figures.  

CARD says they need a new tax because of falling property tax revenues and a “disappearing RDA.” What they don’t mention is the recent $400,000 “side fund payoff” to the California Public Employees Retirement System. CalPERS has demanded public employers pay more toward their employees’ pension premiums, offering some savings on interest if they pay a certain amount immediately.
CARD, employing about 30 people full time, also paid $375,000  in regular pension premiums last year, and $300,000 in healthcare premiums. Salary and benefits totaling about $5 million dollars  eat over half their $7.2 million budget. 
They earn about $3.3 million of their annual revenues from their programs and rental of their facilities. The other $3.5 million  comes mostly  from taxpayers –  county taxes ($2,3456,782), homeowner assessments ($162,753), fees on new homes ($23,750), and $924,000 from the RDA credit card. 
CARD currently suffers a $420,000 deficit. Their capital projects reserve fund shows a sudden negative balance of $344,500. It appears to me they took money from their capital projects fund to pay their CalPERS “side fund payoff”, and now they want us to replace that money. It seems misleading to offer an aquatic center when what they are really asking for is money to pay for their pensions and benefits. 
I’ve posted the budget spreadsheet at chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I know, I said I’d post the budget here – I can’t get it to come up right on this blog, so here’s the link to my other blog:


and here’s the link to the survey:


This survey is completely loaded – essentially, they tell you, if you don’t pay this tax, your kids will end up on dope. Read it yourself.  They also promise “this measure would include strong fiscal safeguards and oversight, including that less than 5% of the proceeds would be used for administration.” 

CUSD stupe Kelly Staley said that about the school bond voters just extended. Chico Unified said they’d form some kind of citizens’ committee  to “vet” a list of projects, but the administration has already announced projects that have never been vetted in any way. And don’t forget, when the school district originally floated that bond about ten years ago, they said the money would be used exclusively to build a third high school. Then they changed their mind, and we’ve never been shown an actual accounting of how much they’ve raked in over the years or where any of that money has gone. 

In this case, you can see that CARD has taken money out of their capital projects fund and used it to pay their CalPERS obligation. When Steve Visconti sent me that budget,  I could tell from his attached letter he really didn’t expect me to read the budget, or thought I was too stupid to figure it out. I had asked him about revenues. 

Our funding sources come to us a few different ways. One is a small portion of property taxes from each homeowner in our District. The other main revenue source is from programming fees. Those are also shown on page 6 of the attached budget.”

But the budget says otherwise. Like I said above – they get over half their revenues from property taxes and assessments – including $924,000 in RDA money. That RDA money is about to disappear, that’s just another reason they want this tax. Besides the $400,000 they stole to pay their own pensions.

You can print that survey from that link, fill it out, and send it to Visconti at the CARD center – 545 Vallombrosa Ave, Chico, 95926. You can e-mail him for more information at svisconti@chicorec.com

And here’s the funny thing – guess who’s on the CARD board – Tom Lando, the same guy who’s been proposing a city sales tax increase.

Time to chatter up 2014

13 Jan
Butte County Public Library, Chico Branch. Yes, it's humble, but public libraries are the silent guardians of Democracy.

Butte County Public Library, Chico Branch. Yes, it’s humble, but public libraries are the silent guardians of Democracy.

Today I think we had one of our most productive Chico Taxpayer’s meetings ever – thanks a lot to Bob Best for coming down to lead a very productive discussion about priorities for Election 2014.

A heavy frost greeted us at the library this morning, but thank goodness, the heater was on.

A heavy frost greeted us at the library this morning, but thank goodness, the heater was on.

We had a good turnout and everybody was up for a good discussion. We started with a brief update on Measure J – not much to talk about there, until the city gets around to allowing us to apply for our refunds. First they actually have to amend something in the charter to allow us to apply for our refunds directly from the city – the current ordinance says we have to try to get the money out of the cell phone carriers first. Yeah, that stinks, and all I can say is, they better slam-dunk that Tuesday night. I’m expecting a reply to that inquiry I sent to the Finance Dept. by Thursday.  I’ll keep you posted.

We spent the rest of the morning discussion the city’s “unfunded pension liabilities,”  comparing notes, and trying to come up with a plan of action.

‘unfunded pension liabilities,” is the money our council promised to pay our city employees in retirement but the city doesn’t  really have it. Council got talked into these crazy pensions (70 – 90% of highest year’s earnings, as early as age 50) by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), who promised that most of the money would come from the stock market.  In the beginning they let the city pay 18 percent of the total cost  (based on actual payroll).   Nine percent of that was deemed the “employer share,” and the other nine was supposed to be the employees’ share. In reality, the city pays most or all of the employee share. And now, CalPERS is raising the amount they want – currently the city is paying 26% and it’s going to go up to 31% within the next couple of years. Meanwhile, management (including $212,000/yr city manager Brian Nakamura) only pay 4%, the fire employees pay 2%,  and the POLICE PAY NOTHING. Only the classified staff – those making less than $100,000/yr, some of them in the $35,000 range, pay most or all of their share, at 8% – 9%.

The “employees’ share” paid by the city (“employer paid member contribution”) adds up to about $1.9 million a year.  Brian Nakamura has complained that the city lost about $900,000/yr with the defeat of Measure J.  He said that amounted to several cops, or a fire station. Just imagine (or get out your calculator) how many cops or firefighters you could hire with $1.9 million.

Bob Best reminded us that this budget deficit conversation has been going on for about ten years. I remember taking my son, now 17, to the morning meetings when he was about six years old. After one discussion he had asked me, if the city was in so much financial trouble, what was with all those brand new multi-colored Sharpie markers and that giant doodle pad Finance Committee member Scott Gruendl was waving around? Gruendl was trying to scribble his way through an explanation why a once-financially healthy city, with a budget surplus when Tom Lando took the helm back in the 90’s, had come teetering to the brink of bankruptcy. This conversation has gone on for all these years, and we are still poised on the brink of bankruptcy, with the same elected leaders who haven’t listened to us before. 

Today we talked about getting more people involved. So many times, people don’t hear about issues like the bag ban until they come before the council, and they’re already a done deal, one way or the other. The bag ban was in committee for a couple of years. The same tiny handful of people came time and time again, urging the committee members to forward a ban to council for approval, with the same little handful, including myself, knowing we represented a much larger group that was unable to attend these daytime meetings, but who weren’t going to like this ridiculous ban.  The meetings weren’t noticed, they weren’t covered by the newspapers, and they’re held at 8am on work days. So,  a lot of people, like the checker and bagger I talked to recently at Safeway, are only just now hearing anything about it. 

Jim mentioned today that a friend of his, hearing of the bag ban recently, asked how something like that could go by without a public vote. He had to remind his friend, she’d voted for the council members who’d said they would support the ban – hadn’t she done her homework?

Chico continues to elect leaders and then complain about the direction they are taking us, and then elect them again anyway. 

What motivates people to vote for a candidate? What issues are important to people? What are the issues that are important to you? We shouldn’t wait until Spring 2014 to sort our priorities out – we need to start thinking about this now. Bob also suggested we start finding the issues in which we share the strongest common interest,  try to focus our energy behind those goals, and get others to help us, spread the word.

What are your priorities for the 2014 election? What issues would you like to hear from the candidates on? Are you a candidate who is interested in running? Well, let’s hear about it. If you don’t want to use your real name or e-mail, don’t worry about it, just try to stay constructive.

Let’s start the chatter.

CTA meeting rescheduled – no First Sunday meeting this month – Second Sunday meeting instead!

4 Jan

I’m sorry to be a flake, Folks, but I will not be able to make the regularly scheduled Chico Taxpayer’s meeting, so the gang has agreed to meet Sunday after next – that’s January 13 – same time, 9am.

I’ve been wanting to talk over the unfunded pension liabilities, and our campaign to get city employees to pay their own “employee share”. We need to discuss the whole notion of who pays what regarding benefits/pensions. I believe the employees should get ready to pay more, a lot more, or get ready to give up this notion of 70-90 percent of their highest year’s salary at 50 – 55 years of age. 

A decent person would not expect others to pay these salaries and benefits, it’s just greed people. 

So, I hope to see hear some productive ideas on January 13, get a letter writing campaign going, try to get council to listen to reason. 

Plan B? There’s another election coming up in two years, and now’s the time to look for suitable replacements for Scott Gruendl and Mary Goloff. 


Did you know that our city manager only makes about $20,000 less than the vice president of the United States? More than Hilary Clinton and all the other members of the cabinet?

2 Jan

A friend of mine sent me an article the other day about President Bronco Bama ordering raises in his executive salaries. He just gave Joe Biden a raise – as of March, the VP will be making $231,900 a year, up from $225,500. 

Of course, Obama takes a salary of about $400,000 – raised from around $225,000 during the George W. Bush administration. People howled about that raise, but the Bronc just walked right into it.  

My friend expected me to be outraged about these salaries – I am!  But here’s what’s really got my panties in a knot – our city manager, Brian Nakamura, demanded $212,000 to take the job here, roughly $50,000 more than his predecessor, almost as much as the Vice President of the United States, and MORE than the following individuals:

  • Hilary Clinton (currently Secty of State and third in line for the throne) – $186,600/year
  • Tim Geithner (Secty of the Treasury) – $191,300/yr
  •  Eric Holder (Attorney General) – $191,300/yr
  • Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) – $199,700/yr

In fact, Nakamura is paid higher than ANY member of the president’s cabinet. To manage a town of less than 100,000 people. 

And we’re depending on Nakamura to “do something” about our budget problems? He doesn’t even pay his entire “employee share” for the pension he expects to take, 70 percent at age 55.  He only pays 4% of the “employee share.” How will we get our financial house in order with a guy like this running things? 

Write to Brian Nakamura, at bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us and ask him to pay his own pension premium. CC the mayor – mgoloff@ci.chico.ca.us

This is embezzlement. “Nice people” don’t embezzle.

23 Dec

Below is one page of absolute SHIT sent to me by Chico City Manager Brian Nakamura regarding our city’s unfunded pension liability. He sent me two downloads, hundreds of pages of gunk. You’d need to lay down bread crumbs to get through this stuff. Sent to me just the other day, I feel this is just a distraction for me, to read over Christmas Holiday? And show up at a meeting scheduled very purposely for one day after Christmas.

Look over the table below – what you should get out of this is, our city council has promised these ridiculous pension packages, promised an “employer share” that is more than the “employee share”, and then promised to pay most of the “employee share” too. Also, you should see, CalPERS promised they’d fund these crazy pensions, including their own, by investing on the stock market, and it’s not working. Compare the liabilities with the assets, and you’ll see CalPERS tanking. When CalPERS tanks, Brian Nakamura and his friends want us to think we’re liable for paying these pensions. 

Why are we putting up with this? Please write to Brian Nakamura, bnakamura@ci.chico.ca.us, and tell him we want new contracts, and we’re sick of paying for these plush pensions and benefits packages, including his. Write to your new mayor, Mary Goloff too, at mgoloff@ci.chico.ca.us.  Tell her we’re sick of paying her benefits package too. 

Nakamura tries to act as though he’s here to help us out! At $212,000 a year in salary, a roughly $50,000 increase over retired city manager Dave Burkland. In fact the council’s first act after hiring Nakamura was to approve a $50-something-thousand budget increase to pay his salary – it’s in the minutes folks, look that up yourselves.  And, Burkland just joined the pension club – at 70% of his $165,000+ salary. 

Let me make something  clear to  all these other public employees that have been wishing me a “Merry Christmas” with one hand in my purse: I don’t like you. I think you are an evil person who steals from and uses less-fortunate, or “not publicly employed”,  people to feather your own nest. I have lost all my respect for the concept of “public servant.” You people are public leeches. When CalPERS crashes, I don’t care what happens to you. I don’t wish you a Merry Christmas, in fact, I hope your Christmas sucks. 

Here’s the message Public Worker: I need your phony good will like a moose needs a hat rack. When you can stand up on your hind legs like homo sapiens instead slithering along like blood-sucking annelids, I might get some respect for you. Until then, just stay the hell out of my way and do your fucking jobs. 

CalPERS ID 6818749730
Page 11
Development of Accrued and Unfunded Liabilities

1. Present Value of Projected Benefits

a) active members – $78,271,949

 b) Transferred members – $5,531,540

c) Terminated Members $2,951,837

d) Members and Beneficiaries Receiving Payments – $76,270,600

e) Total – $163,025,926

2. Present Value of Future Employer Normal Costs – $13,282,215

3. Present Value of Future Employee Contributions – $9,362,722

4. Entry Age Normal Accrued Liability

a) Active Members [(1a) – (2) – (3)] – $55,627,012

b) Transferred Members (1b) – $5,531,540

c) Terminated Members (1c) – $2,951,837

d) Members and Beneficiaries Receiving Payments (1d) – $76,270,600

e) Total – $140,380,989

5. Actuarial Value of Assets (AVA) $103,493,220

6. Unfunded Accrued Liability (AVA Basis)  [(4e) – (5)] – $36,887,769

7. Funded Ratio (AVA Basis) [(5) / (4e)] – 73.7%

8. Market Value of Assets (MVA) – $93,027,024

9. Unfunded Liability (MVA Basis)  [(4e) – (8)] – $47,353,96

10. Funded Ratio (MVA Basis) [(8) / (4e)] – 66.3%


The City of Chico owes $63 million in “unfunded pension liabilities” – and counting!

21 Dec

I’m sorry, I’m just now digging out this report from the October Finance Committee meeting. I missed it, and the clerk has just recently posted the report, or minutes, for that meeting. The clerk’s office is getting faster at posting these minutes, they’re more complete, at least, better than before, and easier to read.

That is, if you have your dictionary handy. These people are experts at the legal lingo that’s intended to keep the rest of us out of the discussion. But, if you’re patient, persistent, and maybe throw down a trail of breadcrumbs, you’ll maybe come out of it with your head twisted on straight.

The blob below is cut and pasted right out of the report. It’s like one of those steaks – if you eat the whole thing, you get it free?  NO!

 I’d recommend, take an aspirin before you start reading these reports, but that’s up to your doctor.

These people use obtuse language to hide the truth. Here you see, “internal operational obligations” means workers comp, sick leave and vacation accruals. By “accruals” they mean, these people don’t use their sick or vacation time, and they get a cash pay-out for it later. They worked those days, and got paid, and then they get paid again for the vacation or sick days they didn’t take.  In other words, they get paid twice for the same block of time, just one of the scams these people use to jack their salaries up from a reasonable range to over $100,000 a year.

And, if you look into it, you’ll find study after study that links over work and excessive overtime directly to excessive workman’s comp payout. Twice I’ve heard Jennifer Hennessy report that the city has been over budget on workman’s comp, so they’ve just raised the budget projections to cover it.

If your child goes “overbudget” on their texting, do you pay more on your plan, or do you take the kid’s cell phone away?  My son was told that if he wants to text, he needs to get a job and pay for it himself. Being a taxpayer living in the City of Chico is like being tied to a chair while somebody goes crazy with your credit cards. 

“External operational obligations” are CalPERS and health care. How many of you are without insurance? How many of you have NO retirement fund? In the real world, it’s all fine and good to talk about saving away for the future – well, how do you do that with excessive taxes on your home, excessive fees for sending your kid to college, excessive fees on your small business? Most people are struggling just to make ends meet. I know I’ve had to make more than one foray on my “retirement fund”.   My new plan is, DIE BY 65! I’ll let you know how that’s going!


FROM THE OCTOBER FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING – available at this link, under “2012 Minutes”:


C. Discussion of Unfunded Obligations – The City Manager asked the Committee to begin discussion of
Unfunded Obligations. Discussion from this meeting will provide the framework for future discussions on
this item. (Verbal Report – Brian Nakamura, City Manager and Jennifer Hennessy, Finance Director)
City Manager Nakamura has been working with Finance Director Hennessy on creating a draft table of
unfunded obligations. She has been able to divide the unfunded obligations into three general categories:
internal and external operational and capital. This is more commonly termed unfunded liabilities, which
means these are items that the City may be responsible for in the future in terms of what could be paid
for PERS or workers comp. Examples of internal operational obligations include workers compensation,
sick leave and vacation accruals. External operational obligations include PERS and health care. Capital
obligations include infrastructure improvements and maintenance, vehicle replacements and facilities
expansions and development.
City Manager Nakamura noted in the table there is approximately $63 million for unfunded liabilities for
CalPERS. This is difficult to get your hands around because it relates to employees who are either retired,
are going to retire or who are currently with the City. However, that amount would only be incurred if all
employees retired at once. With pension reform happening, we know that number will start to shrink. We
can also be hopeful that CalPERS investments start to increase and we start to see a more positive
Committee Member Sorensen stated he would like to have a better understanding of fleet and technology
replacement and find out where we are versus where we ought to be, knowing that we shorted these funds
in previous years. Chair Gruendl added to also find out if there is a budget policy that says where the
funds ought to be.
Finance Director Hennessy replied that there is a fleet replacement schedule, however staff hasn’t
prepared a full update since implementing a lot of the budget reduction strategies along with the new ways
staff is managing the fleet. On technology replacement, in 09/10, staff put together a schedule related to
hardware replacement. Staff has not quantified what it would be to replace all the software systems, such
as financial accounting software and the police department system.
Chair Gruendl noted that the fleet replacement fund is down $500,000. He asked if this is a result of
purchases that have already occurred and we have failed to put an adequate amount in to cover it, have
we put nothing in there since 07/08 and are we not meeting a budget obligation for what should be going
in there.
Finance Director Hennessy replied that the obligation of the budget policy is not being met. Prior to 07/08,
we were putting around $600,000 in annually and the fund balance was around $4 million. After 07/08, we
felt it would be okay to reduce that annual amount due to the fleet optimization implemented by GSD.
There is currently $2.7 million in the fund.

The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but that’s not all it’s going to take to shut her up.

21 Dec

Debbie Presson sent me a note to say she’d had the report for the November 27 Finance Committee meeting amended to reflect the other questions I asked at the meeting, and the answers from staff. You can see that here:

Click to access 2012Minutes.pdf

The minutes for that meeting are posted there at the end of 2012.  

I also got a note from Brian Nakamura, with attached documents regarding the city’s share of CalPERS costs – yeah, it’s bad alright. You have to write to your council, and ask them what made them promise these outrageous packages in those closed door bargaining sessions they’ve held us out of for so long. Now we’re allowed to look at the contracts, sure – like a condemned prisoner stares out the cell window at the gallows. These idiots have put us on the hook for MILLIONS of dollars, a YEAR, in pension payments, more than the employees pay. And then there’s the “unfunded obligations” – that is on the agendas for the next six months! Nakamura is trying to spoon-feed us that manure, and I don’t know about you, but I’m spitting it out. 

We need to shut this city down. 

More questions for Ken Campbell – every answer is just another can of worms!

16 Dec

As I was saying in a previous blog, I recently been struggling through the city firefighters’ contracts, and I don’t mind saying, it’s all Greek to me. “Legalese,” I think it’s called. The worst thing is, they treat you like a moranus because you don’t understand the gobble-ty-gook they spin up just to make sure you don’t understand.

Here’s how they explain the pay rate in the current IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters, the union) contract:

Regular Hourly Rate

 1.2.5. Regular Hourly Rate. Regular Hourly Rate shall mean an hourly rate calculated by summing all non-overtime and non-out of class pay for the bi-weekly pay period, with the specific exception of Holiday Pay as defined in Section 2, Subsection 5.3.1, and dividing the total by 112 for Employees assigned to a fifty-six (56) hour work week, and by 80 for those employees assigned to a forty (40) hour work week.

As my friend Stephanie Taber said recently about the firefighters’ contract, “confused???? so am I!”   Stephanie is way more patient than I am, when she doesn’t understand these documents, she e-mails the appropriate department and asks the questions, then sticks around long enough to get an answer. 

In the letter I wrote to the editor, I asked about the 56 hour week – did that mean 16 hours of guaranteed overtime? Is that how some of these employees almost DOUBLE their salaries?   One person I saw on the salary charts had added $80,000 in OT to his $90,000 salary – and he’s not the only one who does that.  As I pointed out in my letter, the fire department alone bills for over a million dollars a year in overtime. I wonder, how do they do that? 

When Stephanie asked the human resources department about overtime, here was the response: “Under the terms of the IAFF MOU City firefighters get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 56 in a seven day period.”

Okay, now I’m confused. You can schedule people for 56 hours without paying them overtime? News to me. And, I still don’t understand, how do they rack up the overtime pay when they have to work over 56 hours a week to get  it? I mean, there’s not a house burning down or an accident every freaking minute. In fact, hours and hours go by, every day, when nothing justifying the use of gasoline even happens around here. 

I got a new question. Are we paying people to sleep? To watch tv? To take the hook and ladder to the grocery store? 

Human Resources offered more explanation: “In addition, under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act, they get paid overtime for any hours they work in excess of 182 in a 24 day period.  For the City of Chico this equates to an additional 5 hours of pay for each person every 24 day period.”

I keep seeing that word, “work”, and I keep wondering, “what do they mean by ‘work‘?” 

So I will keep asking my questions.