We believe the County should implemented the following measures which would save the County $80 to $100 million per year in salary and pension costs and enable the County to restore essential services to taxpayers.
1. Lower manager salaries by 15% and freeze all salaries for 5 years or as long as necessary to avert a financial crisis. This would save the County $25 million per year or $125 million over 5 years.
2. Have all pension costs shared equally between the County and the employees. This would save the County another $41 million per year.
3. Compare County salaries and benefits with those provided to private sector employees in Sonoma County and adjust them to those levels for all new hires. This could lower salaries for new hires by 30% to 40%.
4. If possible, place a cap on pensions.
5. Eliminate the defined benefit pension plan prospectively for all officials so they won't have a conflict of interest and will be more willing to reduce benefits.
6. Require voter approval for future pension obligation bonds and any changes to pension benefits.
7. Allow current employees to opt for a lower benefit in exchange for a lower contribution level or allow them to move their current account balance into a 401k plan and have the County place 10% of their salary into their 401k plan.
The First District Court of Appeals ruled that pension benefits can be changed going forward for existing employees. The California Supreme Court has decided to review the ruling. Hopefully their ruling will be issued by the end of 2018.
There are legal questions that the courts need to decide regarding changing benefit formulas for existing employees going forward, but most of the above measures can be legally implemented.
The Citizens Advisory Committee believes that if the Board of Supervisors refuses to implement the measures that are clearly legal, New Sonoma will create a proposition and allow the voters to implement them.
More information on Pensions can be found on the White Papers and Articles page.