Local News

Monday, Feb 24 2014 05:00 PM

Supervisors to talk pension costs, parking rules, airport finances

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The hope of increased air traffic in and out of Meadows Field through the William M. Thomas Terminal has not materialized.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

The price tag to the county of Kern for employee pensions will be $213.1 million next fiscal year.

While that's a painful number, Kern County supervisors will actually get a little good news with the high bill Tuesday when they talk pensions with consultants for the Kern County Employees' Retirement Association.

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HOW TO GO

The Kern County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers on the first floor of the Kern County Administrative Center, 1115 Truxtun Ave. in downtown Bakersfield.

Meetings can be viewed live online at www.co.kern.ca.us or on the KGOV channel on television.

County government reporter James Burger blogs live from the meetings at www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/quirks-county.

The plan missed its adjusted investment target in the period that ended in June.

But demographic pressures -- how many workers there are, how much they get paid and how long they are expected to draw a pension -- eased a bit.

As a result, the sharply underfunded pension system, which serves the county and a number of other governmental districts in Kern County, improved its "unfunded actuarial accrued liability."

In other words: the county pension system now has 61.1 percent of the money it needs to pay for current and future pensions; up from 60.5 percent the previous year.

Supervisors are expected to approve the $213.1 million contribution for the year that starts July 1 during Tuesday's weekly board meeting. This fiscal year's contribution was $210.4 million.

PARKING

Also Tuesday, supervisors will decide whether to amend a rule that bans parking in the same spot for more than 72 hours in unincorporated Kern.

The amendment could either require drivers to move their vehicle a "sufficient" distance or move a full one mile.

Supervisors will consider the rule change to strengthen the original ordinance and prevent vehicle owners from moving their vehicle a minor distance to safely avoid the law.

COMMITTEES

A plan to create several sub-committees of the Kern County Board of Supervisors will go up for final approval Tuesday.

Supervisors, under a plan announced last week, would be assigned to five standing committees.

Those committees would handle issues referred to them for investigation by the full board.

Each of the five supervisors would be assigned to two committees if the current plan is approved:

Public Safety: Supervisors Mike Maggard and Leticia Perez

Health and Human Services: Supervisors Mick Gleason and Maggard

Planning and Public Works: Scrivner and Supervisor David Couch

Culture, Education and Recreation: Scrivner and Couch

Finance and Administration: Perez and Gleason

WRITE OFF

Supervisors will also be asked to write off a $4.2 million bad debt on Tuesday.

The Kern County Airports Department owes the county's main capital project fund $4.2 million it can't pay back.

Airport officials borrowed a total of $12.2 million to renovate the old Meadows Field terminal into an international airline terminal and to create more parking at the main William M. Thomas Terminal.

While parking fees paid back the parking lot costs, Mexicana Airlines terminated flights to the international terminal in May 2008.

Revenues expected to come from the international terminal never materialized and the Airports Department cannot pay back the money it spent.

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