San Diego Explained: The Battle Over Pensions - Voice of San Diego


San Diego Explained: The Battle Over Pensions

With $4 million in legal expenses down the drain, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s “substantially equal” pension contributions crusade came to an end.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith lost a significant fight over the city’s pensions system last week, but before we tuck into the details, you really only need to know this: Not much changed.

Most city employees have a pension to cover them once they retire. To pay for those, they contribute money from their paychecks, which is then combined with money from taxpayers. The city invests that money, and expects to earn back 7.25 percent. If it falls short of that mark, taxpayers have to make up the difference.

But a clause in the San Diego City Charter gave Goldsmith pause – what exactly did “substantially equal” mean when it came to contributions from city employees and taxpayers? He interpreted it literally, and sued the San Diego City Employees’ Pension System in 2010 to force city employees to share half the cost.

The City Council decided to settle, reserving the right to require higher contributions in the future. For now, city employees will not have to pay more money. Still confused? Watch Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis chat about the settlement with NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia in this week’s San Diego Explained.

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