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Tuesday: Council to consider pension petition

Original post made on May 17, 2010

Menlo Park's City Council will consider whether to adopt a "pension reform" initiative circulated by Menlo Park residents at its meeting Tuesday, May 18. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, located between Alma and Laurel streets in the Civic Center complex.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 17, 2010, 11:37 AM

Comments (38)

Posted by LaderaDad, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm

"The System works right now" is not the kind of thinking needed by the Council and mayor. The true cost of such generous pensions will be paid by our children, and those that choose to stay living in Menlo. The current financial condition of the state and every single taxable area should just be the warning on the wide swings in good-time and bad that we experience.

Please don't consider mortgaging our children's ability to afford to live in Menlo Park in the years to come. Look what has happened to some of the European countries to see what happens when overly generous pensions bring financial collapse.


Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Just to clarify, the initiative limits council from increasing the formula beyond 2.0% x years of service and from decreasing retirement age below 60 (except for targeted early retirement offers). In other words, if a future pension agreement is at 1.7%, council can return to 2.0% but no further without voter approval.

Many hope that council will take the lead and ultimately make benefit commitments more sustainable, as the real cost to future generations becomes clear.


Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Please don't mortgage my child's future, the City of Menlo Park choose not to fund the pension plan for years and the taxpayers received the benefits, now when they have to fund the plan my child will be effected. While some of the info the pension reformers tell you is accurate there is much more that is not. Read more info at Web Link


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 17, 2010 at 9:18 pm

BCPW -

Which part of what reformers say is accurate? Are you honest enough to answer?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Some facts to add to the discussion:

************************

"California budget crisis: it's worse than you think
by Bob Morris
Mon, May 17th 2010

Last Friday, Gov. Schwarzenegger detailed the brutal budget cuts coming, saying the state doesn't have the money, and that the current system is broken and must be repaired. Further, he said he will not sign a budget that does not contain substantial pension, budget, and tax reform.

He singled out CalPERS, the public pension system, as needing reform. By law, CalPERS can force the state to make up any shortfall, and for the coming fiscal year, that will amount to almost $7 billion.

Among the cuts Schwarzenegger proposes is to completely eliminate (not just cut back) welfare, cutting pay for state workers even further (many already have furlough days, which essentially are pay cuts), eliminating subsidized child care for all children but pre-schoolers, cut in-home care for the elderly and disabled, and more.

He does not favor tax increases, preferring to try to stimulate job growth instead. Given the current dysfunctional system where tax increases must pass by a two-thirds majority, he probably couldn't get them passed even if he wanted to.

How bad is California's financial situation?

Well, as of May 11, 2010, California was in the top ten for highest government default probabilities in the world, just below Latvia and ahead of Sicily, and had a 20% probability of defaulting. The spread on California Credit Default Swaps (CDS) was at 254, which is going into Red Alert territory. CDS are a form of semi-insurance used by deep pocket speculators and hedgers to essentially make bets on the probability of an entity defaulting. The higher the spread, the more the implied risk is. These spreads can influence interest rates for bonds, so this is not theoretical at all.

Let me explain. Wikipedia gives an example of Risky Corp. having a spread of 50, implying this is high. Yet the California spread of 254 means someone buying $10 million of default protection on California debt for five years would have to pay $254,000 in premiums each year to the seller. With non-risky debt, this might be just $25,000 a year.

So, if things are so dire, then California should just default, file for bankruptcy, and let the courts sort it out, right? Wrong. Under federal law, states are not allowed to file for bankruptcy. We are in uncharted waters here.

So, what happens when California defaults?

Maybe it could be an orderly process like an actual bankruptcy, but absent any laws, it would probably be chaotic and contentious. The last time any state defaulted was in the 1840's, so that's hardly any guide. Plus, California is so huge that a default would be very public and probably a serious shock to the markets as well and could trigger other state defaults, like New York and Illinois.

The California Budget Project has a wealth of information in their "Searching for Balance" report on the upcoming 2010-2011 budget that helps explain where California income, expenses, and the shortfall come from. Here's some highlights (numbers are rounded).

Expenses: Education is nearly 50% of the budget, Health and Human Services 25%, Corrections and Rehab 9%. That's right, education is by far the biggest budget item.

Income: Personal income tax accounts for 52% of total revenue, sales and use tax is 28%, corporation tax just 11%. In fact, the share of corporate income paid in taxes has fallen by nearly half since 1981.

Causes of shortfall: Previously projected shortfall is 36.5%, "solutions" lost to court decisions / costs mandated by courts 25.9%, lower than anticipated revenues 18%.

The California budget assumes $6.9 billion in federal funds. If the entire amount is not received, then an all-or-nothing trigger will force several billion in further cuts. So far, the federal government has only guaranteed about $3 billion.

The governor said on Friday, "California has no low-hanging fruit left." All the easy budget cuts, and many hard ones, have already been made. What's coming will be Draconian. Hopefully, badly needed reform will emerge out of the coming difficult times for California."

******************
I suggest that local pension reform is exactly one of those things which will emerge from these 'difficult times'.


Posted by Blue Collar Public worker, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm

POGO
As always honest for sure here you go, from their web site:
·Revenues from property taxes are now declining.
·Revenues from sales taxes have significantly decreased.
·Contributions from the State have decreased.
My question for you: has any public agency been required to fund Cal Pers to the point of bankruptcy as of today?
BCPW


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2010 at 6:56 am

BCPW asks: "has any public agency been required to fund Cal Pers to the point of bankruptcy as of today?"

Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't. Are you really that blind that you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel is an on coming train?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 18, 2010 at 7:05 am

BCPW asks: "has any public agency been required to fund Cal Pers to the point of bankruptcy as of today?"

Yes - Vallejo has gone bankrupt over this issue, Rio Vista will probably be next and LA may be soon after.

"Cities everywhere are struggling right now with revenues that are way short of what they've budgeted," said Megan Taylor, spokeswoman for the League of California Cities. "But they've been bracing for it. In many cases, cities are making really severe cuts to get by."


Posted by Hello, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

Quoting ..."Several council members have said they don't like the idea of the council being hamstrung from increasing pension benefits in the future.


Sounds like they dread the loss of the Union money .... since they'll have nothing to give them (in exchange) any more. Yup, democracy at its best !


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

Well, BCPW, people named a city for you. Any questions?

News flash, BCPW. California is technically bankrupt, too. California's liabilities and our ability to pay them far outweighs our assets and future revenues. However, states cannot declare bankruptcy by federal law. Web Link

I fear that we're going to test this thesis soon enough. I only hope California beats New York (who is suffering from the same unfunded liability issue) to the punch. Maybe Congress will give the first state some help (think Bear Stearns and Lehman). Any state that's next in line will be out of luck.

And you thought the AIG, Freddie and Fannie bailouts were expensive...


Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

POGO and Peter,
First the City of Vallejo cut the Fire, Police and Public workers by 1/3. Then they all took a 9% and currently a 13% cut in pay. There is allot of the financial trouble in Vallejo it is not just this overhead it is mismanagement by the City Council. Would you agree that they funded housing projects and transportation programs with no tax returns to the tune of $250,000,000? They are understaffed for Police by 50% of the FBI recommendations and 40 less Firefighters and they closed 2 fire stations. Now the most recent attempt to claim bankruptcy instead of paying for services. I guess they could out source to the Philippines that might fix their budget issues, they could get them for 50 cents an hour. You would have to go a long way say the City of Vallejo's financial trouble is all the Public Workers fault at this point. The whole point here is it is not fair to balance any Cities budget on the backs of the Public Workers, it sounds like these workers have given allot.
BCPW


Posted by informed voter, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 18, 2010 at 1:26 pm

From today's news file -


California pension fund, facing large losses, tells struggling state it needs an extra $600M

Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press Writer, On Tuesday May 18, 2010, 2:53 pm EDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Facing massive investment losses, the board of California's giant pension fund voted Tuesday to make the state increase its contributions to employee retirement benefits by $600 million in the coming fiscal year.

The increase comes as California grapples with a $19 billion budget deficit and a threat by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to eliminate its welfare program.

The contribution increase would be for one year starting in July, but the board is likely to require similar increases in future years. Local school districts, already facing their own budget struggles, also will see their pension contribution rates grow.

Rest of story at :

Web Link


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Informed Voter (&BCPW):
Thanks for providing this link. Note that reading further down in the item (which quotes the CalPERS chief actuary) while investment losses have made this worse, it is also a matter of people (read state workers) living longer and retiring earlier. And regarding the investment losses: " Quite frankly, there's more to come."
For those who have been posting on this issue on various almanac threads, I would hope you would come to the realization that this is fundamentally a statement of unsustainability.
And BCPW, after going on about Vallejo, I didn't hear any proposed solution. Is the idea to markedly increase local property taxes? Perhaps a local sales tax? It may be that Vallejo is a failed city and cannot afford the services it ideally should have. What if the cost exceeds the city's revenues? JUst where do public employees think their salaries come from? Should we expect a reaction like the Greek public workers when there isn't enough of other people's money to spend?
Judging by the reaction in Menlo Park, a relatively affluent area, even people with more disposable income have a limit as to what they believe should be paid to government workers. Given the inherent advantages in the public sector (union " negotiation" with inherent conflict of interest, job security (markedly lower rate of termination vs. private sector), no need to generate revenue from activities, etc.), I'd say that is reasonable. What BCPW and others appear to overlook is the "P" in his name, PUBLIC, meaning you serve the public. To not only expect, but demand that the public work extra years to fund early public employee retirements is an outrage.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

BCPW -

It's really fun watching you squirm trying to make facts fit your thesis.

You asked us to identify a city that went bankrupt due to this compensation. WE GAVE IT TO YOU.

Now make up some more excuses why Vallejo doesn't count.


Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community
on May 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

POGO
Lets back up a minute and I'll give you some more facts, the City of Vallejo is not bankrupt and this whole thing a ploy and I am not making this up to fit my argument. You don't think laying off 1/3 of the employees is giving by the Public Workers of Vallejo and taking a 13% cut in pay is not in good faith? Did you know the City Council recently voted to give away 190 acres of City land to a not profit that pays no taxes? It sounds like the Council is a bunch of drunken sailors, who would do this when they are in such bad shape. Did you know the only bills the City is not paying are the health and retirement benefits of the city employees, they are paying all their other bills. Did you know there is a gag order on the City employees, I don't care what side of the fence your on this is pure BS this is America we do have the freedom of speech. Did you know that the City of Vallejo citizens pay less per resident for public safety services than other comparable Northern California cities with similar crime rates: In a survey of 18 comparable cities, 16 other cities pay more for public safety, per capita, than the citizens of Vallejo. I did not make this up these are facts, so answer this is the pension issue the only thing wrong with the City of Vallejo's finances? Oh don't forget the $250,000,000 in dept they racked up on low cost housing and transportation projects. I already said that but that's allot of money! The bankruptcy filing is just a tactic to see if it will fly on court, hasn't gone far yet.
BCPW


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 18, 2010 at 3:55 pm

POGO, what is your point in the fifty or so posts you have made across this forum about Menlo Park's economy? What is the point? Can you summarize for me so I can avoid labeling you as another tea bagger like Peter? I know Peter's MO, he cuts and pastes other people's work as his "facts" and makes outrageous claims like he invented the question mark.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Truth - some facts please, on anything.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

As predicted:

SACRAMENTO — Facing massive investment losses, a key committee of California's giant pension fund voted Tuesday to make the state increase its contributions to employee retirement benefits by $600 million in the coming fiscal year.

The contribution increase would be for one year starting in July, but the California Public Employees Retirement System is likely to require similar increases in future years.


Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 9:06 am

Peter,
Please tell everyone what the percentage of the payroll will have to be payed. PERS predicted told each agency this several weeks ago but you and the Media use it as hype. Tell us Peter? You know and I know this number goes up and down with the plans profits, for years agency's did not have to pay. True profits are down but tell us the percentage please? And then tell us how much have agencies had to pay toward Workmans Comp Insurance raises as a percentage, do you Know?
BCPW


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

BCPW - I am unaware of any CalPers updates to cities and agencies and was told that the new rates won't be announced until later in the year.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

I do know that the Fire District was able to reduce its current CalPers rate to 28% by paying down over $10 million in unfunded liabilities and is budgeting an increase of 7 percentage points to 35% next year in spite of its recent paydown.

Agencies with larger unfunded liabilities could be paying between 40% and 50% of their salary base for Calpers. This is a huge amount and more than 3 times what is the average in the private sector for retirement costs.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

Here are some of the current CalPers contribution rates for local agencies - these rates are expected to increase significantly later this year:

Employer Code Employer Name
43 Menlo Park Fire Protection District

Rates
Employer Plan 2009 2008 2007
MISCELLANEOUS PLAN 11.478 % 11.06 % 10.577 %
SAFETY PLAN 39.088 % 39.015 % 37.079 %
NOte that the 39% was reduced to 28% by paying down the District's unfunded liability by more than $10 million in early 2010.

Employer Code Employer Name
213 City of Menlo Park

Rates
Employer Plan 2009 2008 2007
MISCELLANEOUS PLAN 14.597 % 9.682 % 9.67 %
SAFETY PLAN 34.909 % 36.489 % 32.701 %

Employer Code Employer Name
68 Town of Atherton

Rates
Employer Plan 2009 2008 2007
MISCELLANEOUS PLAN 13.103 % 13.201 % 13.497 %
SAFETY PLAN 31.661 % 32.162 % 31.664 %

Employer Code Employer Name
1782 City of East Palo Alto

Rates
Employer Plan 2009 2008 2007
MISCELLANEOUS PLAN 11.262 % 11.579 % 8.399 %
SAFETY POLICE PLAN 19.666 % 19.081 % 13.027 %


Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Peter
Now the percentage payed from 1996 to 2001 please. Also we are being told it's going to be about 1 to 1 1/2 % for Misc. So I am assuming about 3 to 4 % for Safety. My point being the payment goes up and it goes down.
BCPW


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Peter, here is a fact. Your words below.

8,600 people asked the County last year to

review the value of their property

• That figure was up from 1,070 requests in 2007

and 770 in 2006

• About 5,200 of those homes were assigned a

lower value

Already in 2009 more than 40,000 homes in San Mateo County are being reviewed for reassessment.

I predict that the City will see a DECREASE in property tax revenues, perhaps as early as 2010 - depending on how quickly the County acts on reassessments.

Where is that sudden drop in property taxes you tried to stir up?

You were wrong, Peter. Property taxes are projected to increase, which is saving the city, but is something I told you would happen when you tried to get everyone in a panic.

How many panic buttons are you going to press?


Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Someone who posts under the name truth is about as credible as a netowrk that feels the need to promote itself as "fair and balanced".
Note that the CAlPERS chief actuary said that some of the unfunded liability is a result of massive losses (which are expected to get worse before they recover to some new equilibrium). In addition to that (which I would hesitate to simply write off and ignore as BCPW and T would have us do), there is the simple fact (again, this is from the CalPERS chief actuary) that people are living longer (meaning a defined benefit turns out to be more than anticipated) and retiring earlier (again increasing the required outflow of funds). As noted by many reasonable people and the EU and the people of Greece, this approach is not sustainable. It seems as if "truth" and BCPW would stall for time and hope that they get theirs before the system faces inevitable change, but the inconvenient truth is:
- public workers will need to work longer prior to retirement,
- have benefits that reflect what they've paid in rather than a fixed benefit based on their last salary (a system open to obvious gaming and that what has happened). With the present system, there is a relationship (more years leads to higher salary leads to higher pension), however if someone has an average salary of $50K/year over 30 years, and has their last salary of $100K, then retires at 90% of that and lives for another 30 years, they are making far more in retirement than they have contributed or have made in actual salary. There is no company that could get by doing that (and as our local and state governments show, even government can't do it in a sustainable manner).
- likely lower benefits, fewer employees to get the same work done, or lower salaries (or a combination of all three).
You can't tax/extort your way out of this and at some point you will find that various local government functions will be outsourced as the public sector is too expensive for what municipalities can afford.

Sorry, truth hurts.


Posted by What Is So Difficult, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Even France and Germany get it, and are raising their retirement ages from 60 and 65 respectively.

"Facing the same trends of slow growth and longer lifespans, several European Union countries have in recent years increased their retirement ages and cut pension payments. In 2007, Germany opted to gradually increase its standard retirement age to 67 from 65. Last year, Italy pegged future retirement ages to rising life expectancy...

Concerned that the system isn't sustainable, the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a memo to unions, which it released on Monday. The government said the main response to "demographic imbalances" should be demographic. That implies raising the retirement age and the number of years of contributions to the state-run system needed to receive a full pension." Web Link

From the WSJ, but you can find similar information in the NYT and elsewhere.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Truth??? asks:"You were wrong, Peter. Property taxes are projected to increase, which is saving the city, but is something I told you would happen when you tried to get everyone in a panic.

How many panic buttons are you going to press?"

IF Truth really looked at the truth he/she would note that I quite accurately predicted that the INCREASE in property taxes for 2010 and 2011 would be substantially less than the 6-9% increases that we have seen from 2002-2009. That is EXACTLY what is happening. Local agencies are budgeting for about a 2% increase - and that may still be higher than the actual increase which won't be known for a few more months.

Truth - please provide some facts or even an honest well stated opinion on any subject other than simplistic attacks on other posters.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

As reported in the Almanac:
"Atherton's property tax revenue may not be as "flat" as that of other Bay Area towns, but this year's revenue increase is far less than what the town experienced during better economic times when real estate values soared. Ms. Ho said projections from the county show that property tax revenue will increase by only 1.2 percent this year."


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Once again Truth is wrong - here are my exact words, from 2008 no less - and history has proven me to have been quite prescient:


"Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - Friday, December 5, 2008

Guest Opinion: Economic 'perfect storm' is brewing for local agencies

by Peter Carpenter

For many years I have been directly involved in local government agencies or in federal programs designed to support local and state agencies.

Never in that period have I seen such financial storm clouds as now appear on the horizon of local governments.

For the last eight years I have had the privilege and the responsibility of serving the citizens as an elected director of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (which serves Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and parts of San Mateo County) — one of the finest fire districts in the country.

Previously, I served as a Planning Commissioner in Palo Alto and, many years ago, as the federal official in the Office of Management and Budget who was responsible for coordinating all federal assistance to state and local governments.

With falling property values yielding less property-tax revenues, falling consumer and business spending yielding less sales taxes, increased retirement costs (because CalPERS has suffered significant loss of capital in the current financial downturn), continued demands for well-above-average salary increases by public employees, and the governor declaring a financial emergency, local governments in California are facing a Perfect Storm.

Unless local governments act promptly to respond to these dramatic changes we will see more of them joining Vacaville and Rio Vista in being forced into bankruptcy.

Housing prices and hence property taxes will be depressed for at least another two years — just about everywhere except the Palo Alto area, it seems.

And if a lot of the current homeowners request reassessments the decreases will be dramatic.

Similarly consumer and business spending are forecast to be depressed for the next two years.

And CalPERS, which is obligated to continue to pay out fixed-benefit retirement payments and which has seen huge losses in its capital, can only turn to local governments to make up the difference.

And local governments have no choice but to pay what CalPERS will demand.

And while this is all happening local-government unions are continuing to ask for significant increases in both salaries and benefits.

The total labor costs for most local governments are between 60 and 80 percent of their total budgets. While California's local governments are blessed with very talented and capable employees, the current process of salary-and-benefit negotiation has gotten out of hand.

Local-government employee unions insist that the standard for setting their pay be that they be above the average of other public employees. But if everybody is above average then the average goes up very quickly.

While we have many superb employees working for local government, those employees should not expect to receive salaries and benefits that are inconsistent with those of the citizens whom they serve or that will bankrupt their employers.

And in most cases those inflationary-spiral labor agreements are being approved in secret without any public input or scrutiny.

As an elected member of the Board of Directors of one of the finest fire districts, what do I think should be done to respond to this Perfect Storm?

First, local governments need to recognize that there is a crisis and act now.

Second, they need to involve their citizens in a careful look at each of their programs to determine which programs are no longer affordable — however nice or special they might have been in better times, or even how worthy any single program might be.

Third, they need to plan now for hiring freezes, elimination of overtime, reduction in services, layoffs, renegotiated labor agreements and, in the extreme, bankruptcy.

Fourth, they should consider accelerating essential capital-improvement projects (the operative word is essential), as construction costs during this downturn will be substantially less than if the projects are delayed until the recovery begins.

Finally, they need to move the review and approval of new labor agreements out from behind the current wall of secrecy from which the public is excluded.

Once new labor agreements have been agreed upon by the negotiators then those agreements should be simultaneously submitted to both the union members and to the public that will bear the costs well before the city councils and special district boards meet in public session to vote on those agreements.

The Perfect Storm can be weathered but not by sunbathing on the deck."

********************************
And the facts have proven my 2008 prediction to be correct - property values have gone down, many properties have been reassessed downward and this year the property tax 'increase' for inflation on the non-reappraised properties will be negative.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Don't bring Atherton into this now. You were characterizing my town and you were wrong. Our property taxes are up and projected up even more next year. It is a simple matter, Peter. You trying to blend all this other blather into it does not change the error. You predicted a meltdown in property taxes in Menlo Park.

Since you are helping me with your letter repost, how many of your "things that need to be done" have been done by your or my council?

Be honest in your answer, it is the least you can do.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Truth - don't you EVER bring any facts to the table?

'Your' town is projecting that its property tax revenues will increase by only 2.4% for 2010/11. From $12,566,000 to $12,864,270. This is much less than in prior years. And expenditures will increase by 3.6% - notice a problem here? And I predict that the property tax increase will be even less - hence a bigger problem.

PLEASE do your own homework on your own town - citizenship carries responsibilities.


Posted by truth, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Increase is the key word here Peter. Property taxes are increasing year over year over year. The point I am making and can use any facts I need is that my city has $25M in its reserve, property taxes while slowing, are increasing. We now have 2@60 coming as I predicted it would and how is your city doing? What is its reserve?


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

First of all, the council did send the initiative to the voters last night. I want to thank all of the hard working volunteers that helped make that happen.....

Folks there have been lots of facts presented on this forum (and many non facts/innuendos [that's a shout-out to you BCPW]) so in the future please quote your sources.....

CalpERS "CalPERS Experience Study 1997-2007" is the study most people are quoting when talking about how much longer the pension receivers are living. That the average Female employee will live to 85 and male will live to 81, means they will collect pensions for longer than they worked in some cases. In fact they now clearly state that Safety/Firefighters OUTLIVE the misc. group (see page 34 of the report). That means they outlive park workers and desk clerks.

I want to correct the number given for Menlo Parks PERS contribution based on the staff report 09-129 from Sept-09:

70001 - Misc Group

2003-4 0.0% (nope that's not a mistake 0%)
2004-5 6.243%
2005-6 11.508%
2006-7 10.037%
2007-8 9.670%
2008-9 10.965%
2009-10 14.597%
2010-11 14.50%*
2011-12 15.85%**
2012-13 17.90%**
2013-14 20.05%**
2014-15 20.30%**


75002 - Safety Group (Police - Sworn Officers)

2003-4 5.511%
2004-5 21.595%
2005-6 26.36%
2006-7 32.775%
2007-8 32.701%
2008-9 36.489%
2009-10 34.909%
2010-11 35.50%
2011-12 37.21%**
2012-13 41.11%**
2013-14 45.31%**
2014-15 45.81%**


Notes:
* (per an update from the city manager this will be 13.676% due to a smoothing algorithm CalPERS introduced [see CalPERS circular 200-056-09])
** CalPERS estimates for these years.

I want you all to CAREFULLY study those numbers to understand how unsustainable this system is. we will have gone from pay 0% (2004)to paying over 20% of an employees salary to their pension in 2014! (and 45% of Police Officers Salary in 2014)...unsustainable, unsustainable. This is a zero sum game, we only have a set pool of dollars to spend on the employees, the only way to stay within the "band" of cost is to reduce the employee headcount (as costs go up)....simple math.

Thanks
Roy Thiele-Sardiña


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Since when does a property tax increase equal a meltdown?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

"Since when does a property tax increase equal a meltdown?"

Since the tax increase isn't keeping pace with the increased costs. Get it now?


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on May 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

"Since when does a property tax increase equal a meltdown?"

Since the tax increase isn't keeping pace with the increased costs. Get it now?

The sky is falling the sky is falling


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

Truth asks: "POGO, what is your point in the fifty or so posts you have made across this forum about Menlo Park's economy? What is the point? Can you summarize for me so I can avoid labeling you as another tea bagger like Peter?"

First, you discredit your side badly by resorting to ad hominem attacks. Name calling is the refuge of someone who can't make their case.

But to answer your question directly, if you read any of my posts, there is one word that I have repeatedly used and it sums up my point very precisely:

U N S U S T A I N A B L E

The current pensions system was implemented by the Town Council in 2007 (and granted retroactively to public workers), happened just as the economy tanked. Regardless of the economic rebound - which seems to be a bit of an illusion right now - giving city employees those kind of pension benefits were totally unrealistic. They need to be changed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2010 at 7:42 am

Truth? states:"Where is that sudden drop in property taxes you tried to stir up?

You were wrong, Peter. Property taxes are projected to increase, which is saving the city, but is something I told you would happen when you tried to get everyone in a panic."

In 2008 I predicted that "Housing prices and hence property taxes will be depressed for at least another two years".

Well now the FACTS are available for Santa Clara County, and the data for San Mateo County will be available shortly, and the REAL TRUTH is:
"The crash in once high-flying Silicon Valley home prices came into sharper focus Thursday when county officials announced a new record in the number of properties that have dropped in assessed value.

All told, 118,440 houses, condominiums, duplexes and commercial properties will see their assessed values lowered by a total of nearly $21.4 billion. To put that in perspective, just 4,442 properties in 2006 saw assessed values drop, with losses totaling less than $3 billion.

Assessor Larry Stone called the numbers "historically off the charts."

Stone expects total assessed values in the county to fall by 1.5 percent this year compared with last."

There is no reason to believe that the San Mateo County figures will be substantially different and now is the time for local agencies to revise their revenue estimates DOWN from their currently projected 1-3% increase in property taxes to a more realistic zero to minus 1%.


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