Heard at California League of Cities: “We can’t invest our way out of this pension problem”

At last week’s City Managers Department Meeting in Newport Beach, shortfalls in pension funding was a popular topic. The League released a report finding that cities in the next seven years will have to double what they pay from their general funds for employee retirement funds. One presentation showed that the state’s CalPERS is only 70 percent funded, meaning the issue will remain a challenge for years to come. Presenters and attendees mentioned how more fees and more contributions from beneficiaries are under consideration.

Other topics included:

  • Cannabis. California produces 13.5 million pounds of cannabis but only consumes 2.5 million, leaving a lot for potential shipping. In many instances, the state and localities are figuring out how to handle the cash-based business. This includes how to tax it, license it, and its impact on land use, health and safety. As the number of cultivators and manufacturers grows, city managers need to be prepared to create auditing and compliance processes to ensure their businesses are not operating illegally.
  • Millennials. One lively session countered stereotypes of the generation born between 1982 and 2002 saying they are not just the young people in the corner. They’re now working and like all professionals, they want to be heard and recognized for their contributions. Now that many are having families, they care about pay as well as social causes.
  • Disaster management. Last year’s wildfires in Sonoma and Napa counties burned more than 150,000 acres, and caused more than $1 billion in damage. In addition to first responder activities, Santa Rosa City Manager and Presenter Sean McGlynn puts a high emphasis on communication during disasters: “There is never enough communication with your Council, your community, and your team. Find a way to think ahead and continually communicate. Also, think about recovery from the outset. Perpetuate an environment that empowers your team to prioritize human-centric decision making.”