Monday, September 14, 2009
How will a plan to increase employee pension benefits at the Metropolitan Water District affect water rates in San Diego County? We'll speak to MWD Chairman Tim Brick about why employee benefits and water rates are being increased at the same time.
Maureen Cavanaugh: Begin talking about public employee pension benefits and San Diego immediately sits up and takes notice. Talk about increasing those benefits and some local officials run the risk of regressing into disturbing flashbacks.
Not that long ago, the city of San Diego's underfunded pension mess brought us to the brink of bankruptcy. And, San Diego County is just now beginning to count the cost of another badly-timed pension benefit increase.
In this climate, then, it comes as no surprise that a new deal struck between the Metropolitan Water District and its labor unions to increase pension benefits has gotten roundly criticized by San Diego's Mayor and other officials. The fact that the Metropolitan Water District, which provides most of San Diego's water, has increased water rates by 19 percent this year with another 12 percent hike expected next year hasn't helped the pension deal's popularity.
So, why would the nation's largest provider of treated water choose this moment to increase pension benefits? Is there a method behind what looks like madness?
Tim Brick, Chairman of the Board for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.