I was able to confirm the pension payments for utility employees (water and sewer) are paid from each respective enterprise fund. This is true of the CalPERs payments ($551,400) as well as the UAL (Unfunded Accrued Liability) payments ($727,510).
It is likely there are restricted funds that cannot be used to pay for pensions or other benefits, but Sewer and Water Funds are “enterprise” funds, meaning the revenues pay for the operational cost of each entity, respectively, including the cost of benefits (pensions, healthcare, insurance, etc). This means the pension payment for Water employees comes from the Water fund, Sewer employees from the Sewer fund, and General Fund employees from the General Fund.
In order to calculate a percentage of benefits to expenses I would still use the total expenditures as I did below ($24,830,600). However, I could also see an argument being made to only use specific Fund expenditures - Water ($5,015,900), Sewer ($1,123,000), and General Fund ($10,865,900) - for total fund expenditures of $17,004,800, which would make the CalPERS payments of $1,278,910 equal to 7.52% of total Water Fund, Sewer Fund, and General Fund expenditures.
As we discussed last week total salary could also be a way to look at this, as it strips out all other benefits, but the UAL is not a benefit to current employees. The UAL is the liability for current pensioners and represents the “gap” between what CalPERS projected to receive in investment returns and what they actually received. If we are looking at salary only, and CalPERS payments only, the percentage would be 11.33% of total salary, if you include the UAL payment, along with the CalPERS payment, the percentage would be 26.3% of salary. As you know this last calculation would include a benefit for past employees in a payroll/salary number for current employees.
In the end pension payment as a percent of salary is probably the easiest way to look at this, but for me, the total expenditure is the most compelling figure.
In 2016-17 we paid more than $1.2M to CalPERS, regardless of how it is analyzed. This number will increase in the coming years and UAL is in addition to the CalPERS payment. Here are the current calculations for the UAL payments:
Assuming the annual CalPERS payments holds steady you would have to add more than $500,000 to each of the above UAL numbers for the total pension payments the City will make. Also, we should assume the CalPERS payment will increase, and not hold steady.
I hope this makes sense. There are a lot of different ways to look at the numbers as a ratio, but the bottom-line is payments are high already, and they are increasing at rate that is much quicker than most people realize.
Mod: I suppose you could put Sierra Madre's debt problem into perspective by adding total CalPERS payments to that of the Water Bond debt for each year.
Mod: As an example, in the year 2020 you would add $640,595 from the water bond debt plus that $1,720,651 in CalPERS Cash for a grand total of $2,361,246. Or just around what the city could realize by selling the Library property. Get the picture? Just in case you're wondering why the city may soon no longer be able afford to pay for nice things, and instead strictly focus on its survival.