Live Oak City Manager’s CALPERS Analysis A Flagrant Defiance Of The Facts

By Rick Dais

On Saturday February 15 the Appeal Democrat published a front page story detailing the latest CALPERS Annual Evaluations Reports for local government agencies. These reports were released in July of 2019.

Live Oak City Manager Aaron Palmer reported that Live Oak (the taxpayers of Live Oak) paid $242,000 to CALPERS for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018. What Mr. Palmer didn’t report is that Live Oak also paid the employee share (8% of roughly $600,000 in salaries) for the 2.7% miscellaneous plan. That’s about $50,000 he chose not to disclose.

Paying the employee’s share is basically “hidden compensation”.  At any rate, failing to report this pension cost means Mr. Palmer was not being forthright or transparent. Shame on him!

Mr. Palmer went on to claim Live Oak’s CALPERS payments represent only 3% of the City’s total annual budget of roughly $7 million dollars. The percentage highlighted in the CALPERS report Live Oak citizens should be paying attention to is the percentage of salary Live Oak will be sending to CALPERS for 2.7% plan members next fiscal year. The number is 53% (45% plus the employee portion of 8%).

For Live Oak’s upper-level 2.7% employees this translates to about $20 dollars per hour just for the CALPERS contribution. And unlike teachers and most other government workers, these employees don’t contribute one dime of their own money. Nice work if you can get it.

City Manager Palmer went on to reinforce a false claim made many times by Live Oak Finance Director Joe Aguilar. They emphatically state that Live Oak does not have a pension problem because we don’t have our own safety (3% at 50) plan. The city indirectly pays these costs to the Sutter County Sheriffs Department and Sutter County Fire who provide the city’s police and fire services. These payments (47% of salary) are actually lower than Live Oak’s 2.7% at 55 payments (53% of salary). Wow!  Another pension lie exposed. Mr. Palmer really should have read the July 2019 reports. I doubt that he did.

These out of control pension costs that Live Oak management refuses to address are one reason some high level Live Oak employees’ total compensation will be around $160,000 per year beginning July 1st. As a result, the top 6 Live Oak employees have a total compensation of over a million dollars. Who knew?  This from a staff that’s taken well over 11 years to complete one water well. Amazing!

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