Pensions and Retirement funds Cast City in Debt?

By Dennis J. Freeman

City Editor

The City Council voting to hold a special election to generate more income for the city after announcing to the world that there might be a money shortage isn't new.

0The City Council voted 5-0 to hold a special election at its last meeting to see if residents are willing and able pony up a one-half cent sales tax ($9.8 million annually) to benefit crucial city services such as firefighters and police personnel.

This is nothing new. In fact, Culver City is a repeat offender in this category In 2018, residents of Culver City voted unanimously to pass a measure that would help allow the city to maintain basic level of services, including city-driven services such as afterschool programs, 911 emergency response teams, firefighters, police, and senior services.

Residents voted 70 percent to 29 percent to allow the Culver City Neighborhood Safety and City Services Protection Sales Tax (Measure C) to keep these services going.

This quarter-cent sales tax called upon only because the City Council had declared a fiscal emergency. So, the city was able to get residents to fork over $4.9 million generated from Measure C to fund these various activities. So now comes another fiscal emergency declared by the city. The City Council approved this proposal at their Oct. 28 meeting in council chambers.

The issues for the city, according to staff reports, is that the costs to operate the city is coming in at a much faster rate than revenue is coming in. For an example, the General Fund Appropriations is expected to outpace the city's General Fund Revenue over the next decade by more than $7 million, according to staff reports. Whenever the one-half cent peaks or plateaus, the city's deficit is expected to increase by $9 million.

One of the items targeted as to why the differentiation in the city's budget deficit and surplus is the rising costs of pensions and retirement monies. CalPERS, in charge of these retirement and pensions, could force the city to pay out a projected $42.3 million by the time the city's 2029/2030 budget comes around. At the moment, that cost is hovering at $23.9 million, a 77 percent difference.

City Council, calling the emergency The Great Recession, is quick to point out that the city has made strides to rein the budget by slashing positions and operating better fiscally.


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