EL CENTRO â€” Supervisor Jack Terrazas (D-2) and Gary Wyatt, county liaison, asked the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to sign a letter advising Governor Brown to veto Assembly Bill 1853, which takes all county employee retirement funds and puts them in a one-size-fits-all autonomous entity.
Ralph Cordova, Imperial County CEO, recommended the board call on Governor Brown to veto the bill, adding there would be less transparency for the citizens and less accountability if it passed. The board voted 5-0 to send the letter to Governor Brown asking him to veto AB 1853.
The County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL) authorizes counties to establish retirement systems pursuant to its provisions in order to provide pension benefits to their employees.
â€œOur system works fine as is. The bill, if passed will be harmful,â€ Wyatt said.
Chairman Terrazas, who has served on the employeesâ€™ retirement committee for many years, agreed with Wyatt that the current retirement employee fund and pension committeeÂ is well run, solvent, and efficient. They both argued that the state “fix” could cause more harm to the retired, the soon-to-be-retired, and to the fund management for our county.
The bill would authorize the retirement board of any retirement system operating under CERL to elect, by resolution, to be a district under the law. The bill would authorize a board to adopt, by resolution, specified administrative provisions that would classify various personnel of the retirement system as employees of the retirement system and not employees of the county.
Terrazas explained the system does operate autonomously, even though it is under the countyâ€™s authority.
â€œIf we need to use the countyâ€™s resources when necessary, we can,â€ said Terrazas. â€œWith separating the two, the retirement fund would have to hire outside help and that could get expensive. The higher the overhead, the less investment.â€
Terrazas explained that the committee purposely chooses conservative investments, to ensure the funds grow and stay financially safe, but an autonomous board could make riskier choices, may want to be more aggressive with the funds, and put the countyâ€™s retirement funds on shakier ground.
If passed, all California counties would have the same county employee retirement structure.