10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County supervisors say more needs to be done to control rising pension costs as they approved a $16.4 million increase this week.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford called for a workshop on the issue after the board unanimously approved increases in the employer contribution rates Tuesday. The rates for general county employees increased to 14.72 percent from 12.32 percent, while safety employee rates grew to 31.23 percent from 26.82 percent.

Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector Larry Walker said the increases are based on an actuarial report adopted by the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association board in November.

Walker, who is managing trustee for the board, said the study analyzed the pension fund’s unfunded liability to determine how much is needed to ensure the plan is fully funded.

The Board of Supervisors’ action was mainly a “ministerial” one, as the required increases were already set, Walker said.

Rutherford said she is troubled by the increases, which take another bite out of the county budget at time when officials are already anticipating a shortfall.

“If you keep these percentages going out, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” she said. “These numbers really go through the roof.”

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