Proposed state pension reform is hot topic at H.B. council meeting

The statewide pension issue was a hot topic Monday at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting.

The council voted unanimously to have the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee consider proposed state pension reform legislation and bring the item to the council’s next meeting.

Council members Erik Peterson and Lyn Semeta originally asked that the council vote to issue a statement of support for legislation put forward by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). But that request failed 4-3 because some council members felt the issue needed to go before the committee before being considered by the council.

The Intergovernmental Relations Committee is a council subcommittee formed by Mayor Barbara Delgleize and council members Mike Posey and Jill Hardy. The group reviews pending legislation and its potential effects on the city.

Peterson said he believes the council should lend support to the legislation now because the city’s backing could be meaningful to the future of the proposed reforms.

“I am asking everybody here to be an executive,” he said.

But Posey and other council members said they have a problem with bypassing the protocol, especially since the legislation isn’t facing immediate action.

Moorlach has proposed three bills and three amendments to the state Constitution. One of the constitutional amendments would “prohibit public employers from increasing retirement benefits for their employees without two-thirds voter approval.”

Another would give “the Legislature and public pension systems the ability to adjust public employees’ retirement benefit formulas on a prospective basis without impacting any benefits earned.”

The Intergovernmental Relations Committee will review the proposals April 26.

The council voted unanimously to request that a representative of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System attend a study session to discuss pension liabilities.

Councilman Billy O’Connell, who made the proposal, said CalPERS has increased pension costs, which has jeopardized the city’s ability to provide services to its residents.

“CalPERS has failed in [its] fiduciary responsibility, and this failure poses great risk to cities, our hard-working employees and the taxpayers who will ultimately foot the bill for CalPERS’ failures,” O’Connell read from a statement.