CITY OF RIVERSIDE: CFO CLAIMS $603 MILLION DOLLAR SHORTFALL DUE TO HIGHER CALPER’S FEES AS UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY HOUSE OF CARDS BEGINS TO CRUMBLE

Posted: March 4, 2018 in Uncategorized
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The pension problem in the City of Riverside was brought to the attention of the City Council and the Executive Management as early as 2014 by the very active public and TMC.  We want to make this very clear to our readers: all the political rhetoric that is currently being spun is bullshit.  Assistant City Manager Marianna Marysheva tries to spin the fact that her brilliant team has just discovered our current dire pension problem.  No Marianna, we found it, years before your arrival on the scene from Oakland Maywood Lynwood Mammoth Lakes…wherever (damn girl, you’ve been around!).  If you are claiming you just found it, we are going to claim you are a waste of money.

Not only did we find and report the break down in this system, we were ignored.  Now, no one will be held accountable for their lack of professionalism and enormous cost to the taxpayer.  So what do these ever-increasing pensions costs mean to the public?  You will no longer get your trees trimmed, potholes filled, parks maintained.   So, what does this mean to City Hall?  You will have your $200,000 salary for the rest of your life!  Make no mistake about it, we are going to get nothing, and they – the public employees – are going take everything.  These brilliant professional minds at City Hall are going to ask for more money, and you the stupid taxpayer are going to continue to pay it.  At least that’s the plan…

The pension problem was created in the 1990’s by Governor Davis when he increased the formula for payouts for State employees based upon his thoughts that the tech bubble would never pop. Every municipal agency soon followed.  Because our government is stacked with pro-labor sycophant’s who apparently don’t care about the future nor understand math, instead of adjusting these formulas back downwards, it became clear post-housing bubble we couldn’t afford them.  Hence, CalPERS began forcing larger and larger contributions from both municipalities and employees, while not addressing some of the outrageous pension-spiking abuses in a timely fashion.  And while the issue is now finally getting the attention it deserved 10 years ago, we at TMC believe the problems are now so large they are virtually unsolvable absent drastic measures or miracles, as baby boomers are retiring in droves.

Riverside CFO Adam Raymond at the last Budget Engagement Commission meeting on Thursday February 22, 2018 stated that shortfalls in the General Fund are simply due to CalPER’s increases in contributions.  City records indicate that forecasted City revenues will be inadequate to cover these expenses for the next decade!   As operational costs increase in the next five years in fact City reserves will disintegrate, if of course, we don’t do anything.  And what does that mean?  Will they come back to the taxpayers again, and again for their shortfalls?  But this hasn’t been a secret: unsustainable pension costs have been a popular topic for several years now.  But you know what is a secret until now?  Riverside has no plan to deal with the impending crunch…unless you count sticking it to the constituents as a plan.

As a consequence to escalating pension obligations, our reserves will continue to decrease, and therefore Mr. Raymond suggests to the commission the possibility of investing with slightly higher risk as a possibility (of course with an unpredictable economy, this investment platform may not be the most desirable option).  Measure Z revenues will not be enough.  Mr. Raymond suggests more cuts, after the City had promised that the passing of Measure Z would take care of everything. Just like the water transfer tax, the hotel tax, etc., etc., before it…wash, rinse, repeat.

Later Assistant City Manager Marianna Marysheva attempts to mitigate the perplexing faces of the Commission about the use of Measure Z monies for pension obligations, by using her well-known by now, “Ice Queen Spin,” which includes a variation of monotone nothing-speak, impossible-to-understand powerpoint slides, along with empty promises.  She tried to show the commission that the shortfall was revealed only after review of the numbers by her crack team, and ‘we are on it’, and ‘that is why we do these five year plans’.  But perception is reality, and the Commission knows it and the Council knows it: the budget crunches will continue ad infinitum due to increasing unsustainable pension obligations.  And we for two wouldn’t be surprises if the City, with the financial help of the unions (our heroes, right?), rams through another tax measure.

Advice for Ms. Marysheva: stop the drama – we know it’s an act, and a bad one at that.  Your boss John Russo is the ‘ultimate drama queen,’ and don’t even try to take that away from him.  There is only one diva allowed at a time.

The Ice Queen brings up her meeting with a bond rating agency. So why is this important? On one hand she says in three years we are going to have challenging financial problems, while on the other hand she is setting us up for borrowing more money. You see folks its never enough. She also mentions that the bond rating agency is impressed with the TEAM…. So who’s the TEAM?  The Mayor, City Council, executive staff, and Budget Engagement Commission.  You mean batting leadoff and on deck are the two principal players in getting us in this fiscal hellhole?  We have to laugh that, little does the bond rating agency know, the MAYOR is no longer part of the TEAM!

Case in point, according to September 23, 2016 Press Enterprise editorial,  “Regrettably for taxpayers, city officials are often reluctant to show fiscal discipline or search for innovative ways to deliver services until they’ve already dug a deep financial hole. Asking for more money is much easier. It’s something taxpayers need to be mindful of …. ”  And hence, taxpayers will be hit with more and more creative ways that cities can tax us in order to continue the gravy train for our so-called heroes.

According to a September 2016 Opinion piece by Sal Rodriguez in the Orange County Register,

Public employee unions exist to advocate for their members, often campaigning for policies at odds with the best interests of the general public.

The so-called public safety unions are in a unique position. Representing some of the most esteemed and highest paid of government employees, they have lots of money to dole out and are more than comfortable exaggerating threats to public safety if it helps their cause.

Cases in point: ballot initiatives in Hemet, Riverside and San Bernardino tainted by undue influence from public safety unions.

Hemet has been plagued by polarizing debates over public safety and taxes for the past several years. In 2014, soon before the November elections, the City Council voted to contract for fire services, deeming it the best available option.

This prompted a flood of money from firefighters unions across Riverside County to help elect candidates favorable to the city’s firefighters union, which opposed contracting.

It worked, and the newly elected council quickly reversed the decision to contract, and has focused on tax hikes ever since.

In June, voters rejected the union-backed Measure E sales tax increase. Rather than reconsider the decision to capitulate to union demands, the council instead decided to put another tax on the November ballot.

In Riverside, the city, which last year was boasting about a $1 million surplus and felt so good it decided to give police officers a $4 million raise the city hadn’t actually budgeted for, has put on the November ballot a one-percent sales tax.

Expected to raise about $50 million a year, Measure Z is touted as necessary for the future of Riverside.

With a name like “City of Riverside Public Safety and Vital City Services Measure,” it certainly sounds important. Of course, if passed Measure Z revenues can be spent however the council likes and there are no guarantees about how the money will be spent, with one notable exception.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a contract with the city’s police union which, among other things, will give police officers a bigger raise if voters approve a tax increase. It’s quite the incentive.

According to recent filings, the police union has already contributed $12,500 to the Measure Z campaign. Firefighters union president Tim Strack told The Press-Enterprise that he already had $100,000 in commitments for the campaign.

Behind any talk of the need for more money for “public safety,” is really just a desire for bigger raises and budgets.

Note the blatant conflict of interest by our public safety unions.  They give big money to support a sales tax like Measure Z and they give big money to the campaigns of the individual Council members.  These Council members, hence, are responsible for ratifying their contracts.  Shouldn’t this be considered criminal behavior?  They pay to play, and they see us as nothing but feeble-minded simpletons, who will vote based on ’emotion rather than logic.’  They will mobilize and encourage their union members to vote for an initiative because it is good for them financially, even if the action is unsustainable and destabilizing socially in the long term.  They will then cry foul when we as a City cannot deliver.

Make no bones about it, if the public doesn’t take the business of the people seriously, neither will those who represent you.  We think the City should be run as a efficiently as a business, while understanding it is not trying to maximize profits at our expense, and we public salaries should be tied to the outcome of organic tax revenues, not new revenue schemes.  And what will they do next?  Sell our Public Utilities?  But what do we know, as Councilman Soubirous says, we’re just a bunch of hillbillies.  Well that’s what he says people in Los Angeles think of us anyway.

Above you’ll find a list of City of Riverside accomplishments that was recently presented to the Budget Engagement Commission.  In the Finance section of the citywide highlights it states, “For the 14th straight year, the City’s annual budget received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers’s Association.”  How inane, and insane, given how existing City management threw old city management under the bus just 2 years ago for cooking the books.  And it highlights how stupid all these trophies the City seems to lust for continually really are in reality.

TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE REGIONAL COUNTIES MOST, “SCANDALOUS,” “NEGATIVE,” “WARPED,” “RAUNCHY,” “LOW CLASS,” “VISIONS OF GRANDEUR,” “FULL OF B.S.,” “REPREHENSIBLE,” “IGNORANT,” “MISGUIDED,” “BULLYISH,” “INDECENT,” “REPUGNANT,””IMMORAL,” “FILTHY,” “VILE,” “SICK,” “PERVERTED,” “DEFAMATORY,” “STUPID,” “PATHETIC,” “DESPICABLE,” “DISAPPOINTING,” “BELOW THE BELT,” “A NEW LOW,” “SHOCKING,” “OFFENSIVE,” “OBNOXIOUS,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” “FIT TO BE VIEWED FROM THE REAR” AND MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! YES WE ADMIT WE OUR ALL OF THAT AND MORE, WHICH IN CURRENT TERMS IS KNOWN AS “UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT.” TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED. I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU. RATED ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. … AGAIN, THANK YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! CONTACT US:

Comments
  1. Lisa Chow says:

    Since the RPU is owned by the residents. I do not see how the city council can sell off RPU without the consent of the shareholders.

  2. Kevin says:

    The CFO is asked at one point if the city council understands that depth of problems will require cuts to city programs the community holds dear. He responds that not only the council, but the public safety unions know what’s coming down.
    That might explain why the Fire Department item on the council agenda for tomorrow night. So what if our pension program and new contracts are bankrupting the city, we’re all going to Disneyland!

  3. J. Hughes says:

    You mean sell RPU?? Heaven forbid someone might come in & “clean the swamp” there. No longer a muni-owned utility?? Oh, my. If there really was a fairy-godmother and I had one wish left, I’d wish a board like the Public Utility Commission in Sacramento to take charge of RPU who has a real complaint process & can answer questions without double-talk.

  4. Scott says:

    Hi, TMC has always been correct on all the issues. I have followed TMC for many years and their facts have always proven true. In this case, the city is only now forced to face its’ financial mess.

    You can’t sell the water utility since it is a govt’t regulated monopoly that is forbidden by law and contract from making profits. It must run as a non-profit. Measure A, the 11.5% transfer of water utiltiy revenue is unconstitutional and must end with a complete and total refund to the rate payers.
    The city is bankrupt but scared to admit it and deal with it. Bankruptcy will allow the city to re-negotiate the union contracts and end the flood of cash payments to retirement.

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