Friday, November 19, 2010

Still a pension problem

From the Chronicle's Letters to the Editor section, a letter from Public Defender Jeff Adachi:

Still a pension problem
While Proposition B failed, the problem of escalating city employee pension and benefit costs won't disappear. Until the city's political leadership deals with this financial sinkhole, the situation will only get worse, consuming scarce funding that could otherwise support education, law enforcement, parks and recreation programs, public health and other basic services.

By this time next year, retiree pension costs will grow by $60 million to $80 million over the $373 million spent this year. City health care coverage for its employees will grow by $45 million, and the city's unfunded liability will increase by $300 million. Already, city employee benefits absorb one of every six tax dollars. Soon it will be one of three dollars. These costs are unsustainable.

With next year's expected $500 million deficit, San Francisco residents can expect higher fees and fines, but even raising metered parking tickets to $200 won't keep up with these costs.

Many San Franciscans are now aware how much is being spent on pensions and benefits. Rather than celebrating the defeat of Prop. B, the city employee unions and elected officials who opposed it had better get to work on a solution. If they don't, the only bad medicine San Franciscans will experience is bankruptcy.

Jeff Adachi
public defender
San Francisco