No wait, It gets worse: City of Thousand Oaks Pensions and Budget



By Dr. Kevin McNamee

The 2016 council meeting ended on a bleak note. The city’s $187 million budget ended $4 million in the red. We were told tough budget decisions were on the horizon.

No wait, it gets worse. Previous budget deferred $18 million in street repairs. Patchwork and slurry seal are not working. The 2017-18 budget needs to include street repairs. Translation, the city ended 2016 with a $22 million deficit.

No wait, it gets worse. City budget staff’s April “brain-storming session” announced salaries of our very appreciated police officers are out-pacing the city revenue but these salaries are negotiated at the county level. The city has no salary control but is obligated to pay the county bill.

No wait, it gets worse. City pension projections for 2023 will rise to 17% of the total cost of the city’s salaries and benefits. As of June 2015, city’s pension is underfunded at 76.9% due to CalPERS poor investment returns. Translation, more taxpayer revenue to fill pension shortfall and less for city services. 

No wait, it gets worse. The city council approved a 2.57% salary increase for 10 department heads plus city manager and city attorney. Taxpayer contribution to health-insurance plans and executives’ monthly car allowance are increasing. Employees and executives have potential merit-based raises range from 1.5 to 3.5 percent.

These budget challenges are not unique and are strangling all our nation’s cities, big and small.

Triple A bond rated Simi Valley, realized it can’t afford its pension debt. Annual payments to CalPERS is expected to double from $11 million to $22 million by 2022-23. Its sworn police officers and personnel agreed to forgo a salary increase for the next four years.

Port Hueneme’s public safety consumes 45 percent of its general operating revenue. Without changes, the general fund reserve will be fully depleted in a few years. It’s Police Officers’ Association solution is to spend the city’s reserve and “eliminate virtually all recreation programs.”

Using  neighboring city salary comparison justifies such salary increases and fuels a race to the top. City employee salaries should be based on work value and competitive market rates. Private sector wages have been stagnant yet government sector wages continue to rise. If one wants to make half the money of a government employee, go work in the private sector.

Kevin McNamee

Dr. Kevin McNamee, a 2018 candidate for the Thousand Oaks City Council, is a 20 year resident of Thousand Oaks and business owner for over 28 years. He is an instructor at Ventura College in the Water Science Department. As a member of the Thousand Oaks Rotary, he volunteers his acupuncture and chiropractic clinical services at the Westminster Free Clinic to many of the city’s illegal immigrant and under-served population. His practice specializes in acupuncture, chiropractic, Asian and herbal medicine, blended with traditional Western diagnostics and treatment protocols. In addition to his practice, Dr. McNamee provides pain prevention services to organizations like the Los Angeles Police Department. Dr. McNamee’s Anti-Drug presentations for middle and high school students have helped change student attitudes about illegal drug use and abuse. 

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2 Responses to No wait, It gets worse: City of Thousand Oaks Pensions and Budget

  1. Barry Gabrielson September 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    What the local Thousand Oaks Government should do is what the CVUSD has performed in the years. Just take needed requirements dollars out of several budgets, divert that money towards higher salaries, pensions and perks, let the Homeowners pay again for supplies and infrastructure. Pass 320M bond funds for services, let people pay twice for the same services. Ventura County did this also in Gas Taxes, diverting money out of budgets in the Unincorporated Area for required repairs on government own parkway trees and public owned sidewalks, they are responsible to maintain. They just passed an illegal Ordinance relieving themselves of this government duty, passed this liability and cost back to adjacent property owners in housing tracts in Unincorporated areas. So we pay twice for the same repair. This is going on all over California, where mismanagement of tax dollars by local government is being rewarded by passing this cost back to homeowners and taxpayers. So just remove more services, then force taxpayers to pay twice or three times for the same item, that is the ticket. Divert more money for higher salaries and pensions is the solution to governments problem, to represent the government, not the people they are responsible to serve.

  2. William Hicks August 25, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Once upon a time there was a process called “Benchmark” to determine public sector employee’s salary/benefit package. It was a simple process where a survey of private sector trades were evaluated and an average income/benefit package was determined.

    It was a fair method to both public sector employee’s and the taxpayer. And one of the better aspects to this method was that after the average income was determined, the total was reduced, not added to the income, commenserate to the benefit package.

    BUT, that was before public sector unions were in existence.


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