Taxpayers Assocation: County’s pension liability rises


City News Service

The county of San Diego’s annual required contribution to its employee pension system nearly tripled between fiscal years 2000 and 2010, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association reported Tuesday.

The county had to chip in $98 million in 2000 to pay for worker retirements, a figure that had grown to $287 million a decade later, according to the report, which listed the system’s debt as $1.9 billion.

“Just as is the case with many other local and regional governments, the county’s annual and long-term labor costs, in the form of pension liabilities, rose dramatically during the decade of the 2000s,” said Lani Lutar, SDCTA’s president and CEO.

“The good news is that there are many opportunities to cut costs and save taxpayer dollars while still providing county’s employees with fair and equitable retirement benefits,” Lutar said.

County officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The study said pension contributions by the county made up 3.5 percent of the general fund in 2000, but grew to 8.7 percent in 2010.

County costs rose because of retroactive benefit increases in 2002 and investment losses, according to the SDCTA.

The organization made several recommendations, including having the county calculate benefits only on base compensation for new employees, and not including bonus pay; and having voters approve benefit increases.