Saturday, June 10, 2017
[Humboldt County] Grand Jury: ‘Will Unfunded County Pensions Un-fund our Future?’
The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury:
The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury is releasing the third of eight reports on issues in Humboldt County. The latest report is entitled: “Will Unfunded County Pensions Un-fund our Future?” This Grand Jury reports in depth on the looming potential crisis of pension funds and their effect on current and future County programs, questioning our continuing ability to maintain law enforcement, maintain roads, repair or replace crumbling infrastructure, and provide programs that improve the quality of life for our citizens.
The phrase “pay me now, or pay me later” applies to our financially strapped County at every level. The Grand Jury’s concern is that if we pay later we will pay much, much more.
This complex investigation, dealing with millions of dollars, indicates that the unfunded (owed) Pension Liability to CalPERS sat at $232.3 million in June 2015 and that figure is twice the annual County General Fund Revenue of approximately $118 million. Many of our County services come out of these general fund monies.
Of special concern to the Grand Jury is the lack of participation by the Department of Health and Human Services, which employs half of all County employees, in efforts to pay-down this debt. It appears that if they were part of ongoing efforts by the County Administrative Office and Board of Supervisors to address the issue in through participation in Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS), much more significant progress could be made. All efforts to reduce this indebtedness have a direct effect on how we address a huge “wish list” of items that the public may view as essential.
There are possible solutions available to the County but they depend on decisions and leadership from the current and future Boards of Supervisors. This report details the problems and available ways this huge debt can be addressed. The full report is attached and is available on the official County website at humboldtgov.org under reports on the Grand Jury page.
Submitted by: Jim Glover, Foreperson, Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury
June 9, 2017
By The Times-Standard