San Diego’s runaway pension problem a drain on taxpayers

Just when most of us thought the number of excessive pension payouts in San Diego couldn't get any higher, it's gotten higher. The number of employees getting retirement checks of $100,000 or more has increased by 71-percent in a single year.

KUSI's Steve Bosh reports on the latest details and numbers.

The numbers come directly from the retirement system, and were released by Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who says this is the primary driver of the city's financial problems.

Mr. DeMaio says the pension system has been gamed by city employees since 2003 to the point where no service cuts are deep enough and no tax increases are big enough to satisfy these skyrocketing pension payouts.

“The payouts for the top 25 city retirees have increased, with the highest pension increasing in the past year to a staggering $303,980,” said DeMaio.

Councilmember DeMaio says that's 500-percent above the median household income in San Diego.

Public safety members is where these high payouts are disproportionate and concentrated.

“Public safety accounts for 73-percent of the six-figure retirees since 2003, whereas public safety retirees account or only 33-percent of the total number of retirees during the same period,” said DeMaio.

The numbers show public safety members are receiving more in retirement checks than the average San Diego household earns in a year.

“It's offensive to have this 71-percent increase in the number of city retirees receiving $100,000 or more in pension payouts at a time when city services are being cut and San Diego working families are struggling,” added DeMaio.

The councilmember doesn't blame this on the individual city employees but on the system itself.
He says reform is long overdue.

DeMaio says city employees should receive no better and no worse retirement benefits than the average San Diego taxpayer who's footing the bill.

Fifteen of the top retirement checks go to public safety members, police officers and firefighters. The others were two city lawyers and 8 city managers.

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