Contra Costa County retiree heathcare liability estimated at $1-2 billion

County staff, in its findings and recommendations to be presented to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (2/28), will state in part that,

“The County’s pension consultant has estimated the County’s OPEB (“other post-employee benefits”) liability to be in the range of $960 million to $2.1 billion. The ARC (“annual required contribution”) to fully fund an OPEB liability of this size over 30 years would be at least $82 million in the first year— nearly a three-fold increase in the County’s current annual expense for retiree healthcare.”

The County Administrator will recommend that the Supes spend $59,000 for an acturial consultant to determine the actual liability Contra Costa County faces for future retiree healthcare costs.

While GASB 45 (“Government Accounting and Standards Board Statement #45″) does not require full funding, the final amount will be considered a new, additional liability by credit agencies in the next review the County’s economic status and bond rating.

Good news is, the new consultant may be able to help the County find ways to reduce this liability.

Bad news is the Supervisors of Contra Costus County once again betrayed its fiduciary responsibility by choosing to enter critical labor negotiations without knowing this number. Why? A cynical person might surmise that a Board Majority dependent on union support in upcoming elections believed it better to bury the evidence so it could continue to play patty-cake with union benefit demands so it could cook up a photo-op to claim it was trying as best it could to be tough.