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.