Readers comments: June 24, 2022
Claremont city budget
I read your article on the city’s budget in your June 17 edition. I noticed that there was no mention of fire protection cost. Our city is part of the consolidated fire protection district and funded by the “fire suppression services – tax share.” Which is sometimes referred to as the property tax pass through. This means a portion of our property tax revenue goes directly to the county and they provide fire protection services. Is this transfer shown in the budget under “transfers out?” If so, we are getting quite the deal funding three fire stations for $1.9 million. If not, there should be a footnote of the funds diverted to the county for this purpose. It is important because the purpose of a budget is to demonstrate where the money comes from and where it is going. With this information our citizens can make informed decisions as to how elected officials are leading our city.
I have no agenda here, I just desire transparency in our city’s finances.
Let the celebrations return
Routines similar to pre-pandemic years are returning. My effort to keep drunken drivers off the road is not ending. When I was 16, 30 years ago, I was hit by a drunken driver. I suffer daily: My gait and speech were affected, and I lost my driving and hearing abilities.
Look at these statistics for California: According to law enforcement, 35 people were killed and 979 arrested for drunken driving on Memorial Day weekend in 2021. In 2022, 15 were killed and 891 people arrested for drunken driving. For the enforcement period of Fourth of July in 2021, 43 people were killed and 997 were arrested for DUI.
Notice arrests and killings from drunken driving were lower in 2022 than 2021 for Memorial Day weekend. Hoping this trend continues.
People are excited for the future. Enjoy colorful Fourth of July fireworks and go to Griffith Observatory. It is considered Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos.
Have some fun in the sun but think before you drink. Freedom does not come from breaking laws.
A little drinking may be too much. You never know. Enjoy the season and have a sober driver to drive you if drinking. Don’t risk it.
The City of Claremont’s retirement plan
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) used by the majority of California cities, the State of California, and the City of Claremont is often the subject of misunderstanding and criticism.
CalPERS is funded through interest earned on investments (60%), contributions by member employers including cities (29%), and negotiated employee contributions (11%). Reference:calpers.ca.gov.
Annuitants (retirees) receive a pension based on age, time in the system, and annual earnings. Annuitants are also entitled to inflationary increases based on the Consumer Price Index.
Over the last few years, CalPERS has been modified to reduce retirement benefits and lower costs for new employees entering the system by adjusting retirement formulas, setting maximums on the amount of retirement benefits received, and raising the age one can retire with full benefits. This reduces benefits to newer employees to the system. Therefore, as retired annuitants who have been in the system longer leave, the amount of financial liability incurred by the city is reduced.
Most agencies in CalPERS, have what is known as an “unfunded liability.” This is when the amount which has been contributed into the system by an agency is less than the amount necessary to completely fund that agency’s CalPERS employees’ retirement benefits. Of course, this amount is not due immediately because retirement benefits are paid to annuitants over time. Unfunded liabilities are due to downturns in gains on investments or changes over time in actuarial assumptions (a mathematical and statistical model designed to evaluate probabilities).
The most recent valuations show the unfunded liabilities for Claremont’s miscellaneous plan will be paid off by June 30, 2043 and the safety plan payoff is June 30, 2045. Reference: calpers.ca.gov.
A few residents of Claremont are mistakenly claiming that it is impossible to make annual payments large enough on the city’s $58.2 million unfunded liability using a simple amortization and having it paid off in 25 years to meet these goals.
They would be correct if this was a simple amortization like one you would use to pay off a home loan with a fixed interest rate. What these individuals do not understand or choose to ignore is that CalPERS is a retirement system and does not use a simple amortization.
To pay off a CalPERS unfunded retirement liability, actuaries consider economic assumptions including price inflation, retirement formulas, wage inflation, payroll growth and the discount rate; demographic assumptions including mortality rates, retirement rates, disability rates and rates of salary increases due to seniority and promotion; and more. Reference: calpers.ca.gov.
It is imperative that before making assumptions and “factual” statements about the CalPERS retirement system, one should take some time to understand how this defined benefit retirement system works.
You can find information on CalPERS by going to calpers.ca.gov.