The Cost of Delaying Pension Reform: $50 Million a Year

What could Sonoma County do with an extra $50,000,000 a year? That’s approximately the amount that would be available if pensions benefits were returned to the level they were in 2000, which would still provide more generous benefits than those enjoyed by most private sector workers.

Where does this $50 million number come from? In 2000 pensions cost Sonoma County $21 million. That number had ballooned to $97 million in 2010. That’s an increase of $76 million. Let’s be generous and assume at least some of the increase may be due to inflation and population growth which would require more County services. If normal growth would have doubled the amount spent in 2000 to $42 million in 2010 (average annual growth of 7%) that still leaves over $50 million going to pensions each year that could have been spent on other services.

The cost of funding excessive pension benefits is real, and is eroding the County’s ability to provide the basic services taxpayers expect. What’s more the cost of delay in reforming pensions is high indeed.

Jack Atkin, President
Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association

Comments are closed.