Pensions, Utility Taxes and The People of Fullerton

The following commentary was sent in by Fullerton’s own Barry Levinson.


Since the November 2010 elections, I have read two articles on the Friends for Fullerton’s Future site that require further discussion. The first one stated that the rescinding of the utility tax increases of 1994 has saved the taxpayers approximately 150 million dollars since 1994 to the present time. Hats off to Council member Bruce Whitaker and all the people who helped make that rescission a reality. The fact that we were able to elect him to the council indicates that we are making some progress. But this is not a time to sit back and savor our victory locally as well as nationally.

We cannot afford any complacency since another even larger albatross is now facing the fine citizens of Fullerton, namely the unfunded liabilities for public pensions and retiree medical costs.

The second article deals with the reporting by CALPERS that the Fullerton police and fire pension obligations are now facing a 127 million dollar unfunded liability as of June 30, 2009. In other words, we the taxpayers of Fullerton are currently on the hook for this astronomical amount.

If you add the unfunded liability of the miscelleous employees as well as the City’s unfunded retiree health care benefits, it skyrockets up to and probably well over the 200 million dollar mark! Twice the amount saved from the utility tax rescission.

I suggest that the citizens of Fullerton have to be just as irate now as when we were facing the massive utility tax increase in 1994. The one common thread between these two instances is our city council. We must make it clear that we the people are watching very closely the actions taken by our council as they prepare to negotiate with all of the city’s unions! We must speak out loud and clear and demand that the council vote for significant cuts in these benefits coupled with significant employee contribution increases.

I suggest that all fellow readers of this blog attend the February 1st Council Meeting to speak to the council during its Open Agenda Segment to insist that major employee cost savings must be implemented across the board this year. We must demand no less and be ready to take further action if a majority of the council defies the people one more time.

9 Replies to “Pensions, Utility Taxes and The People of Fullerton”

  1. “We must demand no less and be ready to take further action if a majority of the council defies the people one more time.”

    Sounds like a threat. Should Chief McPension be packing his heat?

    1. I plan on being there and hope the Council Chambers are packed with angry Fullerton tax payers (not staff loving chamber stooge types).

      My car suspension is jacked up from potholes and I had to replace a damaged rim…maybe McPension will kick in to fill a hole or two, but I doubt it.

  2. Mr. Levinson,

    With your background in finance, there is an opportunity for you to become Fullerton’s go-to guy on the nuts and bolts of Fullerton’s pension problems.

    Please start pouring over the public documents, set up meetings with the finance managers and do everything you can to wrap your head around the details of our miserable financial condition.

    Reformers need experts to counter the B.S. that will spew forth from the unions and CalPERS. You’ve got the balls, the background and you’re probably pretty damn smart when it comes to these things. Please help Fullerton!

  3. 127 Million to 200 Million dollars in unfunded liability? This is outrageous. Unfortunately, our great city is broke, insolvent, or bankrupt. It is painfully obvious that we cannot afford to fix the roads, do anything meaningful for our city, or the kids. In order to be prudent, the council should explore Chapter 9 bankruptcy in a meaningful way so it can avoid or renegotiate these ridiculous contracts. No private enterprise could operate with these contracts or liabilities unless they were run by Bernie Madoff or bailed out by the government.

  4. Mr. Kiger has been appointed to the PC by Councilman Whitaker. Congrats Travis.

    Question: How (if at all) will this new appointment effect your online content (i.e. FFF content)?

    Thank you in advance

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