Art & Culture

Supervisors Discuss Long-term Contracts

Employee Benefits Funds: Where will they come from?

Today’s Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) discussion at the Board of Supervisors was a bit unreal and talking about it in terms ‘dollars per employee per year’ to pay just the retiree healthcare benefit (more than $11,000 per employee this year due to ‘some undiscovered’ liabilities). (Editor's note: OPEB are post-employment benefits that an employee will begin to receive at the start of retirement. This does not include pension benefits paid to the retired employee. Other post-employment benefits that a retiree can be compensated for are life insurance premiums, healthcare premiums and deferred-compensation arrangements.)

Stated that way it does not get the impact of the four or five million dollars involved. Then there was the shocking news that the county’s CalPERS contributions are going up 50% – no doubt because the layoffs have reduced the work force. Covering a good part of this with one-time ERAF money that might be coming does not fix the problem.

Look at it this way, this year’s ARC and catch-up payment would use up about the ENTIRE landfill closure fund allocation if you had it! As some sage on your own board said, “Where do we get the ERAF (Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund) money next year?” The only solution is to stop the bleeding – as you can see from cities such as San Jose to state’s such as Illinois, even the staunchest supporters of public employees are coming to grips with the problem. The cost of lifetime benefits and gold-plated healthcare are driving us to the poorhouse; additionally, we are constantly being stabbed with extraordinary personnel expenses sometime for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The perpetual expansion and contraction of the public workforce is bad for morale and loses us many experienced personnel. We need a fix that address all these issues, not merely those for this month or this quarter.

Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.