The issue of CalPERS (California Public Employees Retirement System) and unfunded liabilities is an ongoing topic for cities across the state.
Locally, Yuba City will continue the discussion about PERS with the fourth in a six-part series to brainstorm solutions for the city’s unfunded pension liability.
The city currently owes $70.3 million dollars in unfunded pension liability to CalPERS.
The next meeting, Thursday (Oct. 10), will feature a presentation from Kurt Schneider, an actuary with CalPERS. Actuaries look at financial data and make predictions about the current and future value of funds and investments.
Yuba City Finance Director Robin Bertagna said Schneider formerly served as Yuba City’s actuary and he has a strong background with the city’s unfunded liability status.
“What we’ve asked them to talk about is how CalPERS is addressing the funding status, unfunded liabilities and future rates,” Bertagna said. “Because some cities won’t be able to meet their contribution thresholds.”
She said there will also be a representative from CalPERS Stakeholder Relations at Thursday’s meeting. She said she hopes the representative, David Teykaerts, will be able to answer questions people have brought up in past meetings about CalPERS investment choices.
“We’ve heard comments before about CalPERS investments,” Bertagna said. “They don’t want any investments in gun companies or things like that.”
Council member Dave Shaw said that after the October meeting, he will help facilitate a discussion with meeting attendees to look at possible solutions for the unfunded liability.
“I really think that we are heading in a good direction,” Shaw said. “October is our last education meeting; November is where we will be facilitating ... where do we go from here, what are some possibilities.”
Here’s a September meeting recap:
The issue of how CalPERS works and its impact on cities was the topic of last month’s meeting with a presentation from guest speaker Dane Hutchings, who has a background in city financing, having previously worked for the California League of Cities.
Hutchings outlined how cities are on the front lines for what he called the “PERS crisis” noting that cities employ more people than counties, receive less state funding and are more short-term focused than long-term investor CalPERS.
Hutchings said the issue with PERS is not going to get solved until things get worse, meaning cities can’t afford to pay for their unfunded liabilities before the PERS board will take action.
“You would have to have things get a heck of a lot worse before they get better,” Hutchings said. “A municipal crisis ... you’re seeing multiple, multiple agencies go under.”
The next PERS meeting will be Thursday, Oct. 10, at 5 p.m. at the City Council chambers at City Hall – 1201 Civic Center Blvd., Yuba City.
The final two meetings are scheduled for Nov. 21 and Dec. 19.