SD County Pension Board Uses Higher Returns for Deficit Cutting

September 7, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - The San Diego County retirement board has opted to plough about $340 million in investment earnings right back into the system to help slash the public fund's $1.23 billion shortfall.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said themove follows a June deal between county supervisors and the retirement board to use returns above 8.25% as part of the deficit-reduction effort.

According to the newspaper, the actual amount of the deficit cuttingwon’t be known until November, when the board’s actuary issues his annual report that will include an analysis of how many new retirees joined the system and how many have died since the last such study.

However, Chief Executive Officer Brian White, said he’s hopeful the deficit will shrink to less than $1 billion. The funded ratio is expected to increase from 83% to 88% by next year.

Board member David Myers said the $340 million should be put in reserves rather than toward the deficit. He said he had concerns about the recent uncertainty in the stock market and proposed creating a rainy day fund so the board would have the discretion to use the money as it saw fit. The board voted down Myers’ proposal, 7-2.

Also, according to the Union-Tribune, the retirement board tangled over the issue of health benefits for retirees, as it has for much of the year.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who sits on the retirement board, opposed a plan to use nearly $21 million in excess earnings to provide such benefits for disabled employees who retired after March 2002 – the last major increase in pensions.