Panel issues OPEB recommendations

Contra Costans worried about how the county will pay its $2 billion-plus retiree health care liability may want to read a 300-point report released today by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special commission on the subject of pension and medical insurance for California public employees. (Okay, just read the executive summary.)  Click here to link to the Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission report and click here to link to the California Research Bureau’s companion survey.

New government accounting rules will force public agencies, many of them for the first time, to determine and disclose the costs of providing pensions and health insurance to their retirees.

Retiree health care has been a particularly contentious issue in Contra Costa County, where supervisors voted to pay down 40 percent of the debt instead of the entire amount. County officials argue that making higher payments would gut county services while critics counter that unless the county adopts a plan to fully fund the liability, it will eventually cripple the county’s finances.

Watch for this issue to take center stage in the upcoming supervisor campaigns of incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho against soon-to-be-termed-out Assemblyman Guy Houston and as wella s those who plan to challenge Supervisor Federal Glover. So far, Erik Nunn has declared his candidacy and Antioch Mayor Don Freitas has told everyone except the press that he intends to run against Glover. Supervisor Gayle Uilkema is also up for re-election but no one has yet announced plans to run against her.

The June election is not a primary for the nonpartisan supervisor races but an elimination round, or if you prefer, a winner-take-all scenario.

If a candidate receives more than 50 percent plus 1 of the total vote, he or she wins the seat. If no one takes a majority, the top two finishers will compete in the November general election.

Oh, OPEB stands for Other Post Employment Benefits, of which health insurance is the majority of the cost.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen