Saturday, May 11, 2013 – 04:00 p.m.

Even though San Bernardino County is about to make a record annual payment of $172.5 million to its pension fund, there is a little bright light shining through.

The county pension fund, the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA), secured a solid third quarter of badly-needed investment performance. All courtesy of a climbing equity market and stable bond market.

In the fourth quarter ending March 31, 2013, the fund earned a return of 4.5%. For the year, the fund is up 13.0%. That’s 5.25% above the plans 7.75% annual actuarial benchmark.

The $6.9 billion fund is still about $1.9 billion underfunded. A significant amount that will take years of heavy contributions, by the county, and strong investment returns in to erase.

It’s not time to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. Although it is welcome news.