02/29/2024

Opinion: California’s city halls must take action on pensions

California’s pension problems are far from over. Even with the pension reforms of 2012, cities across the state will have to contend with mounting fiscal burdens for years to come, according to a League of California Cities report published earlier this year.

In dollar amounts, city pension contributions are expected to grow by roughly 50 percent between fiscal year 2018-19 and fiscal year 2024-25. As troubling as that is, of greater concern is the rising proportion of city general fund budgets set to go toward their pension obligations.

According to the report, the average California city spent 8.3 percent of its general fund budget on pensions in fiscal year 2006-07. This year, that figure hit 11.2 percent. By fiscal year 2024-25, the average city will spend 15.8 percent of its budget of pensions.

Practically, this means less money for actual services that city residents expect to receive in exchange for paying taxes. That could mean shorter library hours, reduced public works budgets, cuts to parks and recreation and even public safety.

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