CA City Allowed to Reduce Payment for Old Pension

June 3, 2011 ( - Leaders of Contra Costa's largest pension system have agreed to allow the city of Pittsburg to delay part of a $2 million payment it owes under a 2001 agreement to leave the system.

The Contra Costa Times reports that Pittsburg asked the Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association in March to change how its obligations to the system are calculated, favoring a method that “smooths” the ups and downs of the stock market that the retirement system also uses. The main effect would be to lower a payment due July 1 from $2 million to $1.3 million.  

Pittsburg has a $9.9 million unfunded obligation to the pension system that would be paid off in about seven years at the current rate, said city Finance Director Tina Olson, according to the news report.  

Pittsburg left the county retirement system in 2001 to join the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). Under the termination agreement, the city promised to maintain payments for workers who had retired under the system and current employees who were vested. Pittsburg has 150 people left in the county system, including 34 who are still working for the city.  

Despite expressing some concerns about the city’s finances, the board decided that it would agree to Pittsburg’s request if it presented copies of its 2009-10 and 2010-11 financial statements along with an audited statement acknowledging the long-term effect of the changes, the news report said.