County Administrator's Office
For Immediate Release

County of Sonoma provides retirement system annual review

Santa Rosa, CA  –  May 11, 2021  –  The County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors today received the annual State of the Retirement System Report on pension costs and pension-related liabilities through Fiscal Year 2019-20, including membership data for Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association, investment returns and December 2019 actuarial valuation results. The annual report to the public was recommended by the FY 2014-15 Sonoma County Grand Jury Report, the July 2016 report of the Independent Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Pension Matters, and the September 2018 report of the Board’s Ad Hoc Committee on Pension Reform.

“This update is part of the County’s ongoing effort to improve accountability and transparency in reporting on public employee pension costs and liabilities,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “One of our major pension reform goals is to ensure the public is apprised of how pension obligations affect the County’s fiscal health.”

Findings of the annual State of the Retirement System Report include:

  • The County’s pension expenses were $121 million in 2019-20, which is equivalent to 18.7 percent of the County’s total and salaries and benefits and 9.5 percent of operating revenue.
  • Expenses for the fiscal year included $6.7 million in accelerated unfunded liabilities prepayments.
  • Sonoma County’s unfunded liabilities decreased from 2019 to 2020 by $99 million to $625 million, including County Pension Obligation Bond debt.
  • The Sonoma County Employee Retirement Association pension plan is 89.4 percent funded as of Dec. 31, 2019.

The annual State of the Retirement System Report presents data and information on Sonoma County’s pension system, including an update on specific actions taken by the Board of Supervisors to contain pension costs in recent years, such as accelerated payments toward unfunded liabilities, negotiating an extension of certain employees’ cost sharing of unfunded liabilities beyond 2024, and creation of a new joint Retirement Committee with employee group representatives. Other topics covered include historical pension expenses, pension obligation bond costs, historical trends and future year projections, historical investment returns, factors contributing to accrued liability, and impact on pension contribution rates.

SCERA’s December 2019 actuarial report is available for review here:
http://scretire.org/Financial/Actuarial-Reports/

The September 2018 report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Pension Reform is available here:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Pension-Reform/Reports/
.

The FY 2014-15 Sonoma County Grand Jury Report is available here:
http://sonoma.courts.ca.gov/info/administration/grand-jury
.

The Fiscal Year 2019-20 pension report and Board presentation is available here:
https://sonoma-county.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4935399&GUID=1EAAE36D-5A7F-45F3-8C59-19DC3935ED9C

For more information about SCERA, please visit the website here: http://scretire.org/

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Contact Information

Paul Gullixson
Communications Manager
County Administrator's Office
County of Sonoma
Address
575 Administration Drive
Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464665, -122.725235