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Pension Liabilities Take Bigger Bites out of Budgets

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Aired 4/19/09

The City of San Diego has gained national notoriety for its pension deficit. But as pension liabilities mount and the market plummets, other cities around San Diego County find themselves with even worse pension liabilities. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The city of San Diego has paid more than $150 million  into its pension fund this year to meet its obligations. But that’s not as big a share of its General Fund as Chula Vista and El Cajon pay  annually for their pension contributions.  

Chula Vista paid $23 million dollars this year to CALPERS, the agency that manages pension funds for most San Diego cities. That eats up 16% of the general fund  the city uses to provide services for its residents.

Maria Kachadoorian, Chula Vista’s finance director, says that share will only get bigger as the effects of the current market melt down will hit in next year. 

Kachadoorian : "If it’s significant, we would have a significant impact to our rates. At this point we’re assuming about a  $two million additional hit, so we are trying to be conservative. "

Kachadoorian says Chula Vista is paying off pension obligation bonds it sold a decade ago, to help cover the cost, and the city has also reduced its payroll.

 

But the city is struggling to deal with declining revenues : a drop off in developer fees and falling property values after five years of rapid growth.

 

Residents will vote on a one cent sales tax increase in May  

 

Alison St John, KPBS news.

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