Morning Report: City Gets a Break as Pensions Bills Grow

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Last week, city pension fund trustees made a change that will make pension bills larger for the city and its employees.

In 2016, the city of San Diego sent $261 million to the pension system, writes VOSD’s Scott Lewis. That’s nearly all the funds the city collected in sales tax the same year, $275 million. This year the city sent the pension system $325 million. Next year, projections put the amount the city will send to its pension system at $329 million.

For years, the pension system assumed that the money it collected through taxes and paycheck contributions would get a return of 7 percent when invested every year for 30 years.

That number was a high estimate and last week, trustees of the pension system decided to would lower that return assumption for next year to 6.75 percent, reports Lewis. The following year it would decrease further to 6.5 percent.

That means that employees will have to make higher contributions from their paychecks and that includes the San Diego Police Department, which is already facing a recruitment and retention problem. The city would need to give police officers – who are expecting an actual raise – a nearly 2 percent raise with the new pension contributions, just to keep their salaries where they are.

But there was something else worked into this pension decision that lowered the city’s contributions over the next few years, Lewis reports, which means the city might actually be able to pony up for those police raises.


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• In a separate roundup of local politics news, Scott Lewis revisits the reasons the Chargers packed up for Los Angeles to dissuade the folks hoping the team will limp back to San Diego, embarrassed by its lack of an L.A. fan base. “They won’t. This is a 20-year investment. They’re not going to bail the first day,” Lewis writes.

Atkins Gets a Big Win on Housing

VOSD’s Sara Libby recaps Thursday night’s dramatic vote for Sen. Toni Atkin’s SB 2, which would fund affordable housing by adding a $75 fee to certain real estate documents.

Most votes only take a couple of minutes, but the final votes needed to bring the bill home in the Assembly took an hour. Around 10:30 p.m., the bill finally got the 54th vote it needed.

San Diego Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein was the only Republican to vote for the bill. It became a crucial yes vote. One Democrat opposed it.

A couple tweets from Gov. Jerry Brown’s dog and his top aide suggest the governor is eager to sign the bill.

Libby also rounds up other bills from local politicians and where they landed, including Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to reform the CalGang database and the bill from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher to reform SANDAG.

• The state Assembly also easily passed the so-called sanctuary state bill Friday, sending it on to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. It would, among other things, prevent federal officials from having offices in jails, which, as we’ve written , would be a big shift for San Diego.

Podcast: The City’s New Shelter Plan

City Councilman Chris Ward joined hosts Lewis and Libby on this week’s podcast to discuss the city’s new shelter plan.

Ward also explains the “bridge structures” or temporary tents that will be in place until a more permanent building is built.

Libby and Lewis also take a look at the city’s new marijuana supply chain regulations.

• The county warns that if you ate or drank at the World Famous restaurant in Pacific Beach on certain days, you may have been exposed to a person with the hepatitis A virus.

• Our Lisa Halverstadt was on KPBS Roundtable Friday to discuss the outbreak.

Quick News Hits

• Mission Valley is getting a Shake Shack and other food news. (NBC7)

• North County veterans will have to travel down to San Diego for disability claims. Starting Oct. 1, the Oceanside clinic will discontinue exams for compensation and pension claims. (Union-Tribune)

• Four City Council members and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union want new rules for SDPD officers regarding searching vehicles or people after a study last November showed disparities in how blacks and Latinos are searched and questioned during traffic stops. (Union-Tribune)

Top Stories of the Week

These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Sept. 8-15. For the full top 10 list, click here.

1. The Situation With Marijuana in San Diego: the Definitive FAQ

Monday, the city of San Diego is set to debate the last remaining question before the City Council about marijuana: Where should businesses that manufacture, cultivate, distribute and test it be allowed? Or should they be allowed at all? Many people have no idea what’s going on or the profound changes in law, culture and economics that are about to hit San Diego. (Scott Lewis)

2. So, Were We Wrong About San Diego Unified’s Grad Rate? (Hint: No.)

San Diego Unified wrote that a new report on its graduation rate proved “allegations a local news outlet raised about the district’s graduation rate … are false.” The report did not prove any of VOSD’s findings false. In some cases, it added important context to issues we’ve been reporting for years. (Scott Lewis)

3. SDPD Hopes to Fight Crime by Fighting New Liquor Licenses

As it deals with an ongoing staffing crisis, the San Diego Police Department is hoping to curb crime by stopping new bars and other establishments that serve alcohol from opening. One Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control official said SDPD has been protesting all new liquor license applications throughout the city. (Jonah Valdez)

4. More Turf Fields Across the District Are Being Replaced or Treated With Gallons of Glue

FieldTurf USA has been busy replacing and repairing more ragged fields in the San Diego Unified School District in recent months, just three to five years after the fields were installed, newly released emails show. Some of the fields being addressed have already been replaced once, and are experiencing problems again. (Ashly McGlone)

5. Buses Could Make or Break the Mid-Coast Trolley Project

The Mid-Coast trolley line is a multibillion-dollar project that will change San Diego’s transit system. One low-cost way to help ensure the project pays off: Improve the buses that feed into the line. (Alon Levy)

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

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