October 17, 2019 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Residents and the Pension Crisis

SMa.r.t. column| The members of the SM.a.r.t. group are deeply concerned about the City of Santa Monica’s long-term financial health. This guest column is by members of the now-disbanded Compensation Advisory Committee.

Santa Monica faces an unfunded pension liability of more than $461 million, placing our city’s future at risk. Residents are joining together to request that City Council continue and expand the Compensation Advisory Committee, a committee of residents who were appointed to work alongside the City’s Audit Committee to study how Santa Monica City salaries compare with peer cities.

The Advisory Committee has been dismissed by City Council. We are requesting that Council mount a new Residents’ Fiscal Sustainability Committee to continue this critical work. This newly formed committee would include volunteers with a range of skills in finance to assist the City and keep the public informed of how we are paying down Santa Monica’s debt.

A recent analysis by the California Policy Center, a Sacramento-based think tank, reported that Santa Monica City Hall’s total pension costs are likely to increase by almost 75 percent by fiscal year 2024-2025.

The City-sponsored Moss Adams study of Santa Monica identified factors that are driving our pension burden:

• Santa Monica’s median senior leadership compensation is $214,842 – the highest compensation of all peer cities studied.

  Santa Monica also hires more personnel than peer cities.

• Santa Monica is highly unionized.

Studies show that resident oversight fosters good governance. Therefore, our city’s pension crisis must be faced with realism and transparency – as a community.

On Tuesday, June 12 at City Council, we will propose a Residents’ Fiscal Sustainability Committee.

All Santa Monica taxpayers have a vested interest in increased resident oversight.

If you agree, please sign onto the letter to City Council (below) by sending an email to: [email protected]

Citizens’ Fiscal Sustainability Committee

As volunteer members of the Compensation Study Advisory Committee, we participated in the recent audit of Santa Monica compensation practices by Moss Adams, a private, independent firm contracted by the city government.

The experience convinced us that citizen participation in budgetary decisions made by Santa Monica’s city government is both vital and beneficial, a fair, reasonable and logical component of prudent fiscal management, since we – the public – pay the bills.

After canvassing members of the committee, we assure the Council that many are ready to continue working with the City to address fiscal anxieties of residents in responsible, collaborative discussions that lead to sound budgetary decisions of city management.

We therefore urge our City Council to continue an advisory committee, including new members from City Employee bodies, actuarial or pension experts, and the business community as necessary, to add public sector representation and private sector expertise to city budget deliberations.

The Moss Adams experience was worthwhile insofar as data made clear that comparable to municipalities in the Los Angeles area, Santa Monica employee compensation levels were above average, staffing levels were highest per capita, and productivity was average. The overall assessment indicates that while Santa Monica enjoys a robust economy, we spend all the municipal revenue it generates and more, as illustrated by the City’s $461 million unfunded pension liability.

Given projected budget deficits in the near term – shortfalls of $3 million in 2019-20 and $19 million in 2021-22 – hard choices must be made to put our fiscal house in order, including exploration of alternatives for acceleration of the retirement of our unfunded pension liability. Pensions are integral to the compensation, benefit, and staffing matrix that accounts for 65 percent of expenditures in the nearly $800 million overall annual municipal budget.

Though our strong economic base makes us far better prepared to address this challenge than myriad examples of municipal indebtedness across the state and country, it is of cold comfort given the economic constriction that must inevitably follow a decade of national GDP growth, the longest sustained expansion in a century. With the next recession – certain as tomorrow’s sunrise – the existing pension shortfall will likely balloon to more than half a billion dollars, becoming an existential threat to our fiscal sustainability.

Therefore, we call upon the City Council to continue and enlarge citizen participation in city fiscal matters; appointment of a Citizens’ Fiscal Sustainability Committee is an appropriate place to start.

Laurence Eubank & Dominic Gomez

Guest writers for SMa.r.t: Thane Roberts AIA, Architect, Robert H. Taylor AIA, Ron Goldman FAIA, Architect, Dan Jansenson, Architect, Building and Fire-Life Safety Commission, Samuel Tolkin Architect, Mario Fonda-Bonardi, AIA, Planning Commissioner, Phil Brock, Santa Monica Arts Commission. For previous articles see www.santamonicaarch.wordpress.com/writings.

Related Posts

4Fingers Asian-Style Fried Chicken Opens First US Location on Westside

October 10, 2019

October 10, 2019

Asian-style fried chicken joint opens on Sawtelle By Staff Writer While the world was debating Wendy’s versus Popeyes, a new...

Manifest Your Heart’s Desire in 30 days through Goddess Process

September 14, 2019

September 14, 2019

Free online webinar event with Amber J. Lawson By Staff Writer There is no denying that when you look at...

Culver City’s n/naka Rated One of World’s Best Restaurants

August 21, 2019

August 21, 2019

By Keldine Hull Fresh off the heels of Michelin’s 2- star rating in June, Chef Niki Nakayama’s upscale kaiseki restaurant,...

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

August 11, 2019

August 11, 2019

Dr. Melissa Alexander helping patients minimize effects of hearing loss   By Keldine Hull  The ability to hear can have a...

Culver City Resident to Cycle Nearly 1,000 Miles for Children’s Cancer

June 5, 2019

June 5, 2019

Joel Falter takes part in the Great Cycle Challenge By Keldine Hull Culver City resident Joel Falter is cycling for...

Hearing Aid Technology at Alexander Audiology

May 7, 2019

May 7, 2019

Hearing aids in the 21st century with Dr. Melissa Alexander By Staff Writer Hearing aids have come leaps and bounds...

National Burrito Day on the Westside

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

By Kerry Slater Today – April 4 – is National Burrito Day. And while every day is burrito day on...

Edify TV: Westside Today News Show

March 22, 2019

March 22, 2019

Tune into the Westside Today News Show to hear about a hit and run e-scooter collision, the Los Angeles Marathon...

Edify TV: Oil Fields on the Westside?

March 20, 2019

March 20, 2019

Edify TV News Beat: did you know that Los Angeles sits on the 3rd largest oil field in the U.S.,...

Holistic Approach of Ananda Integrative Medicine

March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019

By Staff Writer From spin classes, to juice cleanses, Westsiders are known for being on top of the latest health...

Wide-Ranging Benefits of Oxygen Therapy

March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019

By Staff Writer Just because you breathe in enough oxygen to survive, your brain and other organs may not be...

Treating Hearing Loss at Alexander Audiology

March 14, 2019

March 14, 2019

The importance of addressing hearing damage. By Staff Writer People from all around the world travel to Los Angeles, in...

Edify TV: Westsider in Special Olympics

March 12, 2019

March 12, 2019

By Edify TV Learn about a Westsider representing the United States at the Special Olympics this weekend in this video...

Edify TV: Venice Restaurant Scene Dying?

March 7, 2019

March 7, 2019

By Edify TV Edify TV Live on the food scene in Venice Beach, where a number of local favorites have...

Wide-Ranging Benefits of Oxygen Therapy

February 28, 2019

February 28, 2019

By Staff Writer Just because you breathe in enough oxygen to survive, your brain and other organs may not be...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *