Pension Advisory Committee
The greatest challenge to Santa Monica’s long-term fiscal sustainability is the long-term unfunded pension obligations for city staff under the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). To date, Santa Monica City Council has approved one-time payments to CALPERS totaling $77.5 million to accelerate paying down the City’s unfunded liability, which stands at approximately $450 million at this time. The City is using a combination of pay downs of its unfunded liability, employee cost-sharing, and prepayments to help prepare for and mitigate the projected shortfall in five years.
Learn about Santa Monica retirement costs in the Pension Overview.
Santa Monica is not waiting for Sacramento to tackle this challenge. We recently solicited and selected a specialist in this complicated financial arena to advise us on the most prudent fiscal approach to the problem. The initial results of this study will be available in mid-Fall and will include a spectrum of possible actions to mitigate this problem.
The City recognizes that this issue goes well beyond experts – it affects the entire community, especially those who benefit from (and pay for) city services (taxpayers) and those who benefit from and pay into the pension system (city government workers). The City Manager is convening a committee of 11 members to understand, debate and look for answers to this sobering financial challenge. After taking a deep dive into how the pension system is structured and future costs, the committee will advise the City Manager about options and priorities for addressing significantly rising pension costs and eliminating or significantly reducing the unfunded liability.
Seven members of the Pension Advisory Committee will be members of the public. Four will represent the City workforce -- who also have a stake in solutions. To form the committee, the City Manager seeks individuals with the education and experience to grapple with a half billion dollar challenge – and who represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
The committee will provide thoughtful informed analysis of the problem and potential responses that contribute to rational collaboration to ensure Santa Monica is fiscally sustainable and serves in an advisory role to the City Manager. Meetings will be held twice monthly beginning October, through the end of the year. The committee will be asked to map out and provide a set of recommendations to the City Manager in January.
If you are interested in serving on the Pension Advisory Committee, fill out the application.
Applications are due by 6pm on Friday, September 28, 2018.