Monday, January 13, 2014

Great Editorial on Pension Reform Initiative

Paul Gullixson wrote a surprisingly well reasoned commentary in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat yesterday looking at a pension reform initiative championed by San Jose Mayor, Chuck Reed. The Pension Reform Act has been cleared for circulation by the Secretary of State's office, although it's unclear whether the Mayor will try to have it on this year's, or the November 2016 ballot.
Which reminds me the Eureka City Council recently voted to put an extension for Measure O on the ballot this November. Measure O, you might recall, was the .5 percent sales tax increase passed in 2010. The reason given for it was non- specific shortfalls in the city's budget.

I've wondered here before how big a bite out of Eureka's general fund the public safety pension and health care costs take. Cities and counties across the state are having their budgets eaten away by, among other things, increasing pension and health care costs. Can Eureka be any different?

Yet not a word about that from local media or the city council. About the only thing I recall hearing was the city buying bonds to make payments on their pension obligations. Not a good sign, but the city says it's a good deal. I'll take their word for it....for now.

I'm becoming more convinced pension and health care funding is a big part of the problem if only because everyone seems to be ignoring the issue. Probably because nobody wants to get on the bad side of the police and fire folks.

A few days ago I sent an e-mail to someone with the Humboldt Taxpayer's League I thought might have been in position to have some information on the matter. I asked if he knew how much of the reason for Measure O was public pension payments. I've yet to receive a reply. I suppose the e-mail could have been lost, but I can't help wonder if the person in question didn't want to ruffle any feathers so ignored the question.

At this point I'll be voting NO, or not at all, on the extension of Eureka's Measure O if only because I feel by passing the measure we'll once again be sweeping the question of employee pension and health care costs under the rug.


At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that it will sway your vote or thinking, but you should double check your numbers...I think you will find the Measure O Tax is .25, not .50
Point is, if you listen to the Chief's, and I am talking about the Fire and Police, we can not live without this income to the General Fund. Hope I am right, too.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Maybe it is .25, but the Times- Standard article I linked to says .5:

The Supplemental Transaction and Use Tax, which adds 0.5 percent onto the city's sales tax after it was passed by voters in 2010,....


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