How Will Taxpayers Fund San Leandro's $189 Million Benefit Burden?

The City Council will hold a workshop at 7 pm on Monday, February 25, to discuss how to finance health and retirement benefits for cops, firefighters and City Hall staff.


San Leandro taxpayers face a financial time bomb.

They are responsible for $118,819,000 in health and pension benefits for city staffers, police and fire fighters.

The money to pay for those promised benefits has yet to be identified.

To put this in perspective, the City's general fund is $76 million, Mayor Stephen Cassidy wrote in an email.

On Monday, February 25 at 7 pm, the City Council will hold a work session on how to meet these long term unfunded liabilities for pension and heath care expenses.

The unfunded liabilities are:

  1. All city employee unfunded retiree health care liability - $16,179,000
  2. Non-public safety employee unfunded CalPERS (pension) liability - $36,625,000
  3. Police officer unfunded CalPERS (pension) liability - $47,597,000
  4. Fire Department unfunded retiree health care liability (owed by City of San Leandro) - $18,418,000

That totals $118,819,000.

There will be presentations from our Finance Director and the Alameda County Fire Department (with whom the City contracts for fire services - the firefighters stationed in San Leandro are not City employees).

City officials got a preliminary look at these liabilities during a planning workshop they held in January. 

You can read the presentation from that workshop at http://sanleandro.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=AO&ID=9659&GUID=9ab25371-294b-44a4-9fd8-61e607adcd58&N=UG93ZXJQb2ludDogMjAxMi0xMyBDQyBXaW50ZXIgUGxhbm5pbmcgMS0yNi0xMyAoZmluYWwp

Alameda County officials have been asking similar questions about how to pay for future health and pension promises, as this Patch article explains.

Unfunded pension liabilities are also of concern at the state level, and the same issue faces state and local governments throughout the nation.

Do you have a pension, 401K or retirement health program other than Social Security and/or Medicare?


David March 01, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Leah, you're fully aware that over half of SL's property tax revenues go to Sacramento for...schools. You're also fully aware that the parcel tax hike (by definition approved by 2/3 of voters) is going to schools, which have proven to be poor stewards of taxpayers' money. QED. And yes, you're fully aware that cops' and firemen's pensions are the lion's share of the increasing projected budget deficit for the next few years, and will only increase due to low interest rates that are likely to continue until at least 2015-2017. Or maybe you're not aware of the latter given your aversion to math. I won't go so far as to say money spent on cops is wasted, merely that they are generally overpaid and should be put on a salary scale more similar to, say, NYPD. The schools however, as mentioned above, have been the recipients of an ever-increasing share of my income and we have absolutely nothing to show for it. NOTHING.
David March 01, 2013 at 04:17 PM
By the way, you did look at your link? The median income for a Californian with a bachelor's degree is just under $52,000, presumably for a full work year, also most likely without a pension, retiree health care benefits or near 100% job protection, despite manifest incompetence.
David March 02, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Basically every incremental tax dollar from all the recent tax hikes have gone straight to pensions that are more generous than nearly all that exist for taxpayers. We should ask ourselves why are we willing to continue to throw our money at "public servants" who not only receive more money as salary than 90% of taxpayers, but also have retirement ages lower than 90% of taxpayers, and pension/healthcare benefits more generous than over 90% of the people paying for them. And they have the gall to call public employees "middle class."
Kate March 02, 2013 at 11:07 PM
The city should follow Safeway's lead. Steve Burd a few years back reworked Safeway's deal with the union. People w/ 25 years or more were offered $25K to retire and keep their pensions. Those who stayed kept their pensions, but all future years the workers contributed to their own 401K. All new hires only received the 401K option. It saved Safeway, and something similar should be addressed for all current city employees. All workers (whether public, private or union) should contribute to their own retirement - no free rides. Was it hard on the union workers? Sure - my husband works for Safeway - but it saved the company.


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