By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal
The county pension board’s investment earnings assumption fell more than 30 percent short last year and the system’s unfunded liability is rising, but a preliminary analysis indicates contribution rates can be cut at the Civic Center and the Novato Fire Protection District.
San Rafael, however, faces a hike in contribution rates in light of growing debt.
Although pension investments yielded 5.01 percent, less than the pension board’s assumption of 7.25 percent growth, a “smoothing” program under which past gains exceeding assumption rates are allocated over five years enables a dip in payments next fiscal year.
Pension administrator Jeff Wickman said the system’s assumption that the stock market will enable pension investments to grow 7.25 percent a year “is one of the most conservative in the county systems.” He added that the Marin pension program performed “in the top 10 percent of public pension funds as measured by our investment consultant, Callan Associates.”
Wickman said that “although missing the target return increased the cost of the plan, deferred investment gains from prior years offset this increase.” He added that “the overall impact of all gains and losses produced a slight reduction in the preliminary net employer contribution rate for the plan and the projected employer contribution rates for Marin County and Novato Fire for the upcoming fiscal year.” See the full Story in the Marin IJ