San Diego County Warned To Not Cut Employee Benefits
San Diego County's retirement board attorney, Regina Petty, on Thursday issued a memo saying that the county's request to reduce retiree health benefits is a "form of political intimidation prohibited by the [state] Constitution," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Wolf Branscomb, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/2).
The county Board of Supervisors in December 2006 approved a plan to stop contributing $30 million annually to retiree health care benefits for current county employees and those who retired after 2002.
The plan could save the county as much as $1.8 billion over 20 years, as health care costs increase and new federal accounting rules take effect. The rules will require public pension systems to disclose the cost of future health care benefit payments to retirees.
Retirement board CEO Brian White said that the board might not reach a decision until April or May (California Healthline, 1/8). However, if the board does not approve the proposal by June 30, the county will stop contributing to the county health care fund, thereby compromising health care benefits for all retirees, according to the Union-Tribune.
Petty said the board has no responsibility toward the county and must consider what is best for county employees. Petty also said the board does not need county approval to provide benefits (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/2).