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Lack of pension reform is the problem

In Saturday’s editorial (“Truism on transferring utility funds,” July 7), the Glendale News-Press is asking the city government to be up-front about telling the public why it needs to increase utility rates and move the money from the Glendale Water and Power to the General Fund.

Despite the growth of the annual property tax revenues in the last 10 years from $32,568,000 in 2001 to $79,714,000 last year, the city still finds itself with a budget deficit. It is the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that tells the real story. Those facts should guide our opinions.

The CAFRs show that revenue streams from property taxes haven’t been hampered. The city doubled its pension obligations from $560,822,000 to $1,348,000,000. Furthermore, the city council agreed to have taxpayers guarantee a 7.75% annual return on those investments, even when those fall short. In 2001 the payments to CalPERS were nearly $8 million, but now they are nearly $25 million. Imagine! That $17 million exceeds the budgetary shortfall.

The city doesn’t need to raise, or use, utility rates. A more transparent approach is to ask for a tax increase and let the voters decide. As the editorial suggests, the city has to cough up an explanation for the budgetary excesses. But we know that a lack of pension reform keeps our budget ailing. Alas, we are reminded that sunshine is the best disinfectant.


Herbert Molano