Wednesday, January 2, 2013 – 11:00 a.m.

The news on the pension front for San Bernardino County is still not good.

It appears a newly-implemented pension formula for new employees will provide little near-term relief from escalating county contribution rates.

San Bernardino County will see its pension costs rise by another 10.75% for general employees and 9.89% for its public safety employees for its fiscal year commencing July 1, 2013.

Contribution rates for new employees, who fall under new formulas, will be 14.70% and 21.55% lower than current general and public safety employees respectively.

The new contribution rates were approved by county supervisors on December 18.

But the new numbers only partially inflict the full brunt of the financial pain. Current retirement system policies allow for the phase-in of rate increases resulting from investment losses over a period of a few years.

Right now those rates don’t reflect significant under-performance.

There may be some decent news on the horizon though. The current performance of the pension system investment portfolio may actually meet or exceed the required annual benchmark of 8.75% this year.

It won’t make up for the current $2 billion-plus unfunded liability. But keep the situation stable.

The only caveat here is the stock market needs to hold its current gains.