Friday, July 20, 2012 – 08:00 p.m.
The weak investment climate has stung another California public employee pension fund.
Sources say the pension system for San Bernardino County, California earned an estimated 0.75% in its latest fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.
The county system, known as the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association’s (SBCERA), has an established benchmark that assumes the fund will earn an annual rate of return of 7.75%.
The system’s five-year average return number looks something like 0.95%. A number devastated by the events of 2008 and 2009.
Any under-performance hits the funds financial stability.
This new development comes as county supervisors are about to propose a series of reforms to pension benefits and putting in place a requirement that all employees pay into the system.
According to the retirement plans consolidated annual financial report, as of June 30, 2011, the system had an unfunded liability of $1,705,139,000. The highest in its history.
Now that amount is expected to exceed $2,000,000,000 when a new calculation is completed by the system’s actuary Segal and Company.
The bad news will undoubtedly place more pressure on county officials to increase contributions to support the plan, which has already fallen well below the 80% funded level, considered adequate for any pension system.
The new results will place the plan somewhere in the low 70-75% range, with the expectation it will fall below 70% next year.
A funding level of 40% or less is considered insolvent.
It’s uncertain if the Board of Retirement is considering following the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) in moving to drop the benchmark assumption rate to 7.50%.