A 49 percent spike in unfunded pension promises could drive up taxpayer contributions to Sonoma County government pensions by $13.6 million over the next three years.
Voters favored incumbents in three state legislative races representing various parts of the North Coast. Final returns gave veteran lawmaker Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, almost three times as many votes as Guerneville activist Tom Lynch in their race to represent the revamped 2nd Assembly District.
Sonoma County voters on Tuesday will begin the process of replacing retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and filling a heavily contested Assembly seat, likely creating first-ever runoffs between two Democrats. In addition, with new district boundaries in force for the first time, voters will have a say in four other races for Congress, the Assembly and state Senate. Tuesday’s election, the first statewide vote under California’s top two primary system, is expected to set up three November run-offs between two Democrats instead of a Democrat and a Republican.
Michael Allen has raised more than seven times the amount reported by his closest challenger, Marc Levine, in their race for the newly created 10th Assembly District. Plus, we have numbers on the flow of money into the Assembly seats held by Wes Chesbro and Mariko Yamada.
North Coast Assemblyman Wes Chesbro is bidding for re-election this year with no Republican opponent and the likelihood of facing a fellow Democrat in the November general election. With two other Democrats and a Green Party candidate on the June 5 primary ballot, the Arcata Democrat could join Guerneville activist Tom Lynch in a fall run-off under California’s new top-two open primary system.
In a shake-up at the top of Sonoma County government, the Board of Supervisors on Monday appointed David Sundstrom to Sonoma County’s vacant chief financial officer post. He currently serves as the elected auditor-controller of Orange County. The board bypassed a recommendation by Rod Dole to select his longtime No. 2 administrator, Donna Dunk.
Without a major overhaul of its retirement system, Sonoma County government faces “untenable consequences,” including the continued skyrocketing of pension costs and the further erosion of funding for public services. That is the message being delivered Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors in a 135-page report by two of its members.
A proposed cap on pensions for all employees, a higher retirement age and less generous benefits for new county employees are among the recommendations being made by Supervisors David Rabbitt and Shirlee Zane, according to an outline of a forthcoming report obtained by The Press Democrat. Their report, which will be released Thursday, also proposes that employees share equally with the county in the cost of their pension contributions.
Taxpayer contributions into Sonoma County’s pension fund are set to climb by nearly two-thirds over the next three years. Now at $45 million for county government, the annual contribution could rise to $74 million in 2014 and then level off, according to a new report.
Options for overhauling public systems are limited compared with those available to private corporations. As a result, public sector pension changes have focused on reducing benefits for future workers. Critics say that approach will fall short of solving the problem.