The Shifting Fiscal Landscape.

coins_cFor some time now council leadership and senior city staffers have been hesitant to bring the topic of Brea’s unfunded pension liabilities before the public, either to educate or discuss the current state of affairs.  Attempts to put the topic on the agenda were continually thwarted.

Luckily, Roy Moore remained steadfast in his belief that the people of Brea deserved to understand the situation and had a right to make their feelings, questions and suggestions known.  To that end, on Thursday, February 7th, Roy conducted an open meeting at the Brea Masonic Lodge and presented a clear picture of where Brea stood at the moment.

You can download a copy of Roy’s presentation HERE.

One small step for Roy Moore.

Roy’s dogged persistence, plus pressure from our regular cast of characters at Matters from the Audience, was sufficient to force a change of heart in those who prefer to keep things behind closed doors.  Here’s an excerpt from Roy’s Brea Net newsletter #650:

coins_b“As you know I have been very concerned about Brea’s unfunded liabilities and am interested in pension reform.  I am happy to report that the City Council will finally address the unfunded liability issue during its May 7 Study Session.  The discussion should include the extent of our unfunded liabilities, how they evolved, CalPERS recent decision on increasing the City’s contribution rate to fund employees’ pensions and the impact this may have on city services and what possible solutions are available.  This portion of the Study Session will begin about 5:00 p.m. in the Executive Conference Room.”

One giant leap for Brea citizens.

This is a breakthrough a long time in the making.  All folks with an interest in this topic, especially considering that this meeting will not be televised or adequately documented in minutes, should plan now to attend.

A handful of us, following Roy’s presentation, have stayed in touch and continued our own discussions.  Here are a few of the key questions we feel deserve to be addressed:

  • CalPERS recent actuarial policy change will require participant cities to increase their contribution to the fund by as much as 50% per year beginning in 2015.  How will Brea plan to absorb such a dramatic increase in cost?
  • Is Brea considering changing from a defined benefit retirement plan to a defined contribution retirement plan for Brea city employees?  How will the bargaining units, especially public safety unions who account for the largest unfunded pension burden on taxpayers, respond?
  • How did Brea squander it’s 42 year relationship with Yorba Linda for the contracted provision of police services?  Is there any unfunded liabilities legacy that comes with this loss?  How will the cost of rebuilding Brea’s Police Department impact our ability to keep up with unfunded liabilities?
  • Roy’s chart covering liabilities from 2001 to 2011 (download report above) indicates that Brea had a $10.8 million surplus for public safety and a $11.1 million surplus for miscellaneous – a total surplus of $21.9 million in 2001.  By 2003 that had reversed itself and become a $10.1 million total unfunded liability.  That’s a $32 million swing in just 2 years! If we skipped payments to CalPERS, where did the money go?

Please, come to the meeting and make yourself heard.

I’m sure there will be more questions than answers rising out of this meeting.  Remember that, at 7:00 p.m., the study session will adjourn to the public meeting downstairs which will be televised.

During Matters from the Audience, these and new questions generated by the study session report and discussion can be publicly put to Council and, because “Unfunded Liabilities” is on the agenda, Council and staff may reply without violating the Brown Act.

coins_aThere is also a Budget Workshop set for Tuesday, May 14 in Conference Rooms A and B (Civic Center, 2nd floor) beginning at 3:30 p.m. – not the most convenient time.  It will be staff run and the agenda/format are unclear at the moment.  As I learn more, I’ll pass it along.

Remember, it’s your city.

It’s (mostly) your money and it’s your services that are at stake.  Why would you stay home and not get involved?

 

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