Sonoma County’s pension system has hired as its new top administrator an official with the much larger and more politically embattled Orange County government retirement fund.
Santa Rosa and its firefighters have reached a tentative, nearly three-year labor agreement calling for them to receive salary increases totaling 4.5 percent but also requiring them to pay 12 percent toward their pensions by 2015.
Officials of Sonoma County’s emerging public power agency sparred Thursday while setting compensation packages for a pair of new hires, splitting over appropriate pay for the posts and how salaries and benefits at the agency would compare to other public entities.
Santa Rosa’s pension costs are set to soar by about $12 million over the next six years as it is forced to pay higher rates by a state pension system trying to come to grips with a massive gap between its assets and what it owes current and future retirees.
Santa Rosa plans to refinance about $35 million in pension bonds in an effort to control costs and prevent the city credit rating from slipping further.
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.
For the second time in two years, officials overseeing the pension system for Sonoma County government have lowered the fund’s projected rate of return on investments, a move that will increase taxpayer costs in the short term but is intended to reduce long-term market-driven shortfalls.
The Petaluma City Council Thursday unanimously approved an amendment to its contract with the state retirement system to create a second tier of retirement benefits for new employees.
CalSTRS, the state pension fund for public school teachers, has a major investment in a private-equity firm that in turn owns a company that owns Bushmaster Firearms International, which manufactured the rifle used in the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.