Marin Grand Jury
This Marin Civil Grand Jury report was just released yesterday. CSPP is preparing remarks for publication but I wanted to make sure you have a chance to read it before it hits the newspapers.
Four years ago, the Grand Jury released a report titled Marin’s Retirement Health Care Benefits: The Money Isn’t There, that discussed the funding of public agency liabilities for retiree health benefits. They discovered that most agencies were neither saving adequately nor implementing best practice cost containment strategies, and warned of the consequences.
Since then, some agencies have started paying more attention to their unfunded benefit liabilities and are choosing to prepay at least a portion of their liabilities, as financial advisors recommend. However, while 16 of the 39 agencies we studied in this report collectively decreased their unfunded liability by $108.1 million (the County of Marin reduced its unfunded liability by $88.3 million), the remaining 23 agencies collectively increased their unfunded liability by $41.9 million. This problem has been escalating for years and will not be magically gone tomorrow. Left unchecked, the growing liabilities may eventually challenge agencies’ fiscal health.
The Grand Jury recognizes that all agencies face day-to-day operational challenges and that retiree health liabilities are likely not top-of-mind for many agencies. Officials and board members may not be expert at interpreting financial documents nor aware of the long-term implications of retiree health liabilities for their agency’s viability – but they need to be. In this report, we offer strategies to help Marin agencies deal with their Other Post employment Benefits liability (primarily health benefits) and make it easier for the average person to understand the scope and potential effects of such liabilities on our communities.