Thursday, December 20, 2012

Similarities between Santa Barbara & Sonoma County’s Pension Systems Retroactive Pension Benefit Increases and the Damage it Caused

Now yesterday I shared this story with you all(below) and today I want to share an example from our SBCERS pension that matches Mr. Churchill's concerns. So today I emailed him the following;

How Retroactive Pension Increases and Lower Investment Returns Have Blown Up Sonoma County’s Pension System  by  on APRIL 5, 2012 · 25 COMMENTS

Mr. Churchill here is the example of how retroactive benefits created a pension deficit here in Santa Barbara County. The example is found on page 3 of County Auditor Controllers White Paper. If you notice his document was not created until 2006 to explain the action and loss of pension value that occurred between 1999 and 2000, also under Mr. Geis's watch.

“County of Santa BarbaraOffice of the Auditor-Controller
County Retirement Costs: White Paper by Robert W. Geis, CPA
(Through June, 30, 2006)Page 1 of 7  Case in point: In 1999 the County was 100% funded per the actuarial value method and 117% funded ($180 million surplus) per the market value method. In our opinion, this was just short of excellent. At that point decision makers decided to improve both active member and retired member benefits using surplus earnings to pay the benefits (a part of the $180 million surplus). The cost of these benefits created new liabilities for past service estimated by the actuaries to cost $87 million. During the implementation of the new benefits the market lost $142 million by 12/31/00. Therefore, the surplus to pay the benefits was wiped out and new liabilities were created that had not been paid for Page 3 of 7

Now Mr. Churchill this act and others bothered an independent third party and is reflected in their comments. 
“For an in-depth analysis, the County hired an independent third party (Kroll/Mercer) who issued an evaluation of the system dated November 7, 2006 ( identified a number of concerns that should be addressed regarding retiree health benefits, the policy of using “excess earnings,” improving the methods to measure the cost of proposed new benefits, making the system more transparent (it is difficult to understand), confirm compliance with applicable laws and improve the stability of the system. To address these concerns, the County hired tax attorneys Ice Miller to guide us towards assuring the Retirement Plan is in compliance with IRS federal tax laws.”

Mr. Churchill I hope you find all this useful I have been questioning the actions described in the 2006 "White Paper" for nearly 4 years now, so your article seems to have validated my fears. 


Larry Mendoza

S.B.C.C.C. The place where COMMON SENSE never goes out of style!

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