LEMOORE — California Senate Bill 266, legislation that focuses on retired public employees who have received extra retirement income by mistake, is headed to the Senate for concurrence.
The City of Lemoore hasn’t taken an official stance on the bill, but City Manager Nathan Olson announced Thursday he will look into the proposed bill’s effect on the city.
“I will look into it further and get educated on the implications to the general fund if passed,” Olson said in an email.
SB266, sponsored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), focuses on the mistakes public employers can make if they pay too much towards a retiree’s pension, according to the League of California Cities.
Under current law, when the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) discovers it is paying a retired employee too much, the retiree loses the difference and may be required to pay back up to three years’ worth of mistaken payments.
Senate Bill 266 would put the burden of paying for those miscalculations on public employers through general fund dollars.
The League of California Cities opposes the bill that “further strains local agency budgets at a time where retirement obligations are crowding out funding for critical services to the public.”
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During recent city council meetings, city staff, council members and the public have stressed about the depletion of Lemoore’s general fund in the past few years. In June, Assistant City Manager Michelle Speer presented information about vast deficits in the city’s general fund.
By June 30, 2020, the general fund, including operating and reserve, is projected to be at $3.9 million, she said. This is a deficit of almost $4 million, with the fund proposed at $7.3 million at the start of the fiscal year in July.
In 2013, the general fund was at $12.1 million.
The California Professional Firefighters sponsored SB266 after some former firefighters were billed for thousands of dollars after the pensions they had planned on were reduced and they were responsible to make up for the mistake.
One firefighter was billed over $42,000.
“Our retired firefighter wasn’t at fault, but they were being asked to pony up and sacrifice a hard-earned retirement,” said CPF President Brian Rice in a prepared statement. “That’s not right.”
For more information on SB266, visit the California Legislation Information website.